7 Ways to Save on Travel With Kids

If vacationing with your kids is something you’d like to do in the near future, here's how to trim the price tag.

Traveling with kids is stressful enough without tacking on the worry of spending a fortune for fun in the sun (or on the slopes, or wherever you’d like to take your kids). If vacationing with your kids is something you’d like to do in the near future, here are seven things you can do to cut the price tag.

1. Travel as Much as Possible Before Your Kids Turn 2

I didn’t know this before I had a kid myself, but if your child is under the age of two and you’re willing to hold them in your lap for the duration of your flight (known as a “lap child”), they’ll fly for free within the U.S., Canada, Mexico and most of the Caribbean.

If you’ll be flying internationally, be sure to check the airline’s policy, although most allow lap infants to fly for free if they’re under two (one per adult). Be sure to show proof of your child’s age at check-in — their shot record or a copy of birth certificate will do — or you may have to pay for a seat.

2. Call the Airline to Ask About Discounts

If you’ll be flying internationally or your kid is over two — or even if they’re not, but you’d prefer to not hold them in your lap — it’s worth calling the airline to ask if they offer any discounts on kids’ tickets. For example, Southwest only offers Infant fares through a Southwest Customer Representative.

3. Research Ahead of Time

A little research can go a long way when you’re traveling with kids. If you purchase tickets for museum visits, theme parks or other attractions online, you can often do a quick online search to find promo and discount codes to use at checkout.

For example, purchasing a Disney World one-day ticket online will cost you $59, as opposed to $117 at the gate. That’s a big savings. Be sure to research what attractions will be free no matter what. For example, MoMA admission is free for kids 16 and under, and the Denver Art Museum is free to kids 18 and under every day. (Is Disney World your destination? Check out these suggestions on how you can visit Disney World for free — or close to free, anyway.)

4. Skip the Car Rental

Depending on your kids’ ages and how much you plan to bring, skipping the rental car might not always be feasible or helpful. But if you can take public transportation, you’re bound to save a ton of money. Besides, riding the New York City subway or the cable car in San Francisco will be an adventurous activity in and of itself.

5. See What You Can Borrow From the Hotel

Packing is another area where you can save some cash, especially if you’ll be flying. While some of your baby goods, like strollers and car seats, can be checked for free, if you need to pack multiple bags, you’ll likely pay dearly in baggage fees. Instead, call your hotel or apartment rental and find out if there’s a Pack and Play you can use and if there’s laundry on site. If there is and it’s not a fortune, it might be worth packing less.

6. Ask About Special Discounts

It’s always a good idea to look online or call your hotel to ask about discounts. For example, military personnel, teachers, seniors and large groups often get discount options.

7. Pack a Great Rewards Card

If your rewards card isn’t giving you tons of cash back or travel points, it might be time to find a new one. (Be sure to check your credit before you apply to see if you’ll qualify. You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

My husband and I just signed up for a new travel rewards credit card that offers a sizable bonus after spending a given amount in the first few months and we know it will be easy to hit that, as we’re remodeling our basement. And the bonus is enough to pay for vacation flights, especially because our toddler flies free. California, here we come!

Image: pixdeluxe

The post 7 Ways to Save on Travel With Kids appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Awesome Summer Gifts for Your Wired Kids

You'll never have to hear those dreaded words, "I'm bored!" with these cool, techy toys.

Summer is nearly upon us, and if you have kids, you know that means coming up with activities to keep them from getting bored. Cool tech toys that keep their brains and bodies active can help keep them occupied between the swim lessons, away camp and other activities. We tapped retail expert Rebecca Lehmann of Brad’s Deals for some toys that are sure to impress your wired kids this summer so you’ll never have to hear those words “I’m boooored!” Here are her techy picks.

1. Cozmo by Anki

The robotics startup that stole the show at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013 is back, this time with Cozmo, a “real-life robot like you’ve only seen in the movies,” Anki’s site says. Use the app to check Cozmo’s Daily Goals, a list of recommended activities for keeping him healthy and energized. The more you hang out, the more skills Cozmo learns — and the more he wants to play, which kids will love, Lehmann said. (Cozmo will send you a message if you leave the Cozmo App open so it doesn’t drain the battery.) Cozmo is available at various retailers starting at about $180.

2. Hatchimals by Spin Master

The toy that took the holidays by storm is still available, and popular as ever. Like Cozmo, Hatchimals “learn and evolve as you interact with them,” said Lehmann, specifically by requiring your kids’ touch in order to hatch. Kids can teach these colorful furry creatures to walk, talk, dance and play, and engage them by listening to their heartbeat, tapping and more. Hatchimals are available starting at about $55 at Target, Walmart and Kmart, as well as sites like Amazon and the children’s entertainment company Spin Master.

3. Love2Learn Elmo by Playskool

The cuddly toy responsible for Black Friday madness all those years ago has gotten an upgrade. Now the beloved Sesame Street character encourages little ones’ daily routines, like cleaning after themselves and brushing their teeth. Clap Elmo’s hands to learn all about numbers, letters, colors and shapes, or play games to see his real-time responses. Parents can also program Elmo with an app, said Lehmann, which is available on select Apple and Android devices. Playskool’s Love2Learn Elmo is available on Amazon, starting at about $32.

4. PlayStation VR by Nintendo

Sony’s new, long-awaited headset has moved hundreds of thousands of units, according to PlayStation executive Jim Ryan, and for good reason: Virtual reality is hot. Though not every gamer’s convinced the PSVR is a must-buy gift, it’s still an affordable foray into virtual reality, even at around $400 on Amazon. From the funny (“Job Simulator”) to the scary (“Until Dawn: Rush of Blood”), these games will keep your kids busy.

5. Nerf N-Strike Elite TerraScout Remote Control Drone Blaster

“There’s a whole new crop of toy drones,” Lehmann said, noting Nerf’s ultra high-tech N-Strike Elite TerraScout Remote Control Drone Blaster. Priced at a cool $249.99 on Toys R Us, the toy lets kids record the fun in photos and videos, command remote-controlled dart blasts and use the controller to adjust the angle of the blaster. There’s also a live video feed for viewing out-of-sight targets because this blaster takes dart-launching seriously.

Tips for Spending on Toys

With some toys costing hundreds of dollars, some parents may be wondering how they’ll pay for them without going into debt — should they opt to use layaway, savings, low-interest credit cards or something else? No matter what you do, you’ll want to make sure you don’t hurt your budget. (You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) You may also want to take a look at these 13 ways to save at Babies R Us if you plan to shop there.

Beyond that, parents may want to ensure the toys are safe for their kids to begin with. For recall information and other news on potentially dangerous products, you can visit the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Image: Imgorthand

The post 5 Awesome Summer Gifts for Your Wired Kids appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Awesome Summer Gifts for Your Wired Kids

You'll never have to hear those dreaded words, "I'm bored!" with these cool, techy toys.

Summer is nearly upon us, and if you have kids, you know that means coming up with activities to keep them from getting bored. Cool tech toys that keep their brains and bodies active can help keep them occupied between the swim lessons, away camp and other activities. We tapped retail expert Rebecca Lehmann of Brad’s Deals for some toys that are sure to impress your wired kids this summer so you’ll never have to hear those words “I’m boooored!” Here are her techy picks.

1. Cozmo by Anki

The robotics startup that stole the show at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013 is back, this time with Cozmo, a “real-life robot like you’ve only seen in the movies,” Anki’s site says. Use the app to check Cozmo’s Daily Goals, a list of recommended activities for keeping him healthy and energized. The more you hang out, the more skills Cozmo learns — and the more he wants to play, which kids will love, Lehmann said. (Cozmo will send you a message if you leave the Cozmo App open so it doesn’t drain the battery.) Cozmo is available at various retailers starting at about $180.

2. Hatchimals by Spin Master

The toy that took the holidays by storm is still available, and popular as ever. Like Cozmo, Hatchimals “learn and evolve as you interact with them,” said Lehmann, specifically by requiring your kids’ touch in order to hatch. Kids can teach these colorful furry creatures to walk, talk, dance and play, and engage them by listening to their heartbeat, tapping and more. Hatchimals are available starting at about $55 at Target, Walmart and Kmart, as well as sites like Amazon and the children’s entertainment company Spin Master.

3. Love2Learn Elmo by Playskool

The cuddly toy responsible for Black Friday madness all those years ago has gotten an upgrade. Now the beloved Sesame Street character encourages little ones’ daily routines, like cleaning after themselves and brushing their teeth. Clap Elmo’s hands to learn all about numbers, letters, colors and shapes, or play games to see his real-time responses. Parents can also program Elmo with an app, said Lehmann, which is available on select Apple and Android devices. Playskool’s Love2Learn Elmo is available on Amazon, starting at about $32.

4. PlayStation VR by Nintendo

Sony’s new, long-awaited headset has moved hundreds of thousands of units, according to PlayStation executive Jim Ryan, and for good reason: Virtual reality is hot. Though not every gamer’s convinced the PSVR is a must-buy gift, it’s still an affordable foray into virtual reality, even at around $400 on Amazon. From the funny (“Job Simulator”) to the scary (“Until Dawn: Rush of Blood”), these games will keep your kids busy.

5. Nerf N-Strike Elite TerraScout Remote Control Drone Blaster

“There’s a whole new crop of toy drones,” Lehmann said, noting Nerf’s ultra high-tech N-Strike Elite TerraScout Remote Control Drone Blaster. Priced at a cool $249.99 on Toys R Us, the toy lets kids record the fun in photos and videos, command remote-controlled dart blasts and use the controller to adjust the angle of the blaster. There’s also a live video feed for viewing out-of-sight targets because this blaster takes dart-launching seriously.

Tips for Spending on Toys

With some toys costing hundreds of dollars, some parents may be wondering how they’ll pay for them without going into debt — should they opt to use layaway, savings, low-interest credit cards or something else? No matter what you do, you’ll want to make sure you don’t hurt your budget. (You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) You may also want to take a look at these 13 ways to save at Babies R Us if you plan to shop there.

Beyond that, parents may want to ensure the toys are safe for their kids to begin with. For recall information and other news on potentially dangerous products, you can visit the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Image: Imgorthand

The post 5 Awesome Summer Gifts for Your Wired Kids appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Awesome Summer Gifts for Your Wired Kids

You'll never have to hear those dreaded words, "I'm bored!" with these cool, techy toys.

Summer is nearly upon us, and if you have kids, you know that means coming up with activities to keep them from getting bored. Cool tech toys that keep their brains and bodies active can help keep them occupied between the swim lessons, away camp and other activities. We tapped retail expert Rebecca Lehmann of Brad’s Deals for some toys that are sure to impress your wired kids this summer so you’ll never have to hear those words “I’m boooored!” Here are her techy picks.

1. Cozmo by Anki

The robotics startup that stole the show at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013 is back, this time with Cozmo, a “real-life robot like you’ve only seen in the movies,” Anki’s site says. Use the app to check Cozmo’s Daily Goals, a list of recommended activities for keeping him healthy and energized. The more you hang out, the more skills Cozmo learns — and the more he wants to play, which kids will love, Lehmann said. (Cozmo will send you a message if you leave the Cozmo App open so it doesn’t drain the battery.) Cozmo is available at various retailers starting at about $180.

2. Hatchimals by Spin Master

The toy that took the holidays by storm is still available, and popular as ever. Like Cozmo, Hatchimals “learn and evolve as you interact with them,” said Lehmann, specifically by requiring your kids’ touch in order to hatch. Kids can teach these colorful furry creatures to walk, talk, dance and play, and engage them by listening to their heartbeat, tapping and more. Hatchimals are available starting at about $55 at Target, Walmart and Kmart, as well as sites like Amazon and the children’s entertainment company Spin Master.

3. Love2Learn Elmo by Playskool

The cuddly toy responsible for Black Friday madness all those years ago has gotten an upgrade. Now the beloved Sesame Street character encourages little ones’ daily routines, like cleaning after themselves and brushing their teeth. Clap Elmo’s hands to learn all about numbers, letters, colors and shapes, or play games to see his real-time responses. Parents can also program Elmo with an app, said Lehmann, which is available on select Apple and Android devices. Playskool’s Love2Learn Elmo is available on Amazon, starting at about $32.

4. PlayStation VR by Nintendo

Sony’s new, long-awaited headset has moved hundreds of thousands of units, according to PlayStation executive Jim Ryan, and for good reason: Virtual reality is hot. Though not every gamer’s convinced the PSVR is a must-buy gift, it’s still an affordable foray into virtual reality, even at around $400 on Amazon. From the funny (“Job Simulator”) to the scary (“Until Dawn: Rush of Blood”), these games will keep your kids busy.

5. Nerf N-Strike Elite TerraScout Remote Control Drone Blaster

“There’s a whole new crop of toy drones,” Lehmann said, noting Nerf’s ultra high-tech N-Strike Elite TerraScout Remote Control Drone Blaster. Priced at a cool $249.99 on Toys R Us, the toy lets kids record the fun in photos and videos, command remote-controlled dart blasts and use the controller to adjust the angle of the blaster. There’s also a live video feed for viewing out-of-sight targets because this blaster takes dart-launching seriously.

Tips for Spending on Toys

With some toys costing hundreds of dollars, some parents may be wondering how they’ll pay for them without going into debt — should they opt to use layaway, savings, low-interest credit cards or something else? No matter what you do, you’ll want to make sure you don’t hurt your budget. (You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) You may also want to take a look at these 13 ways to save at Babies R Us if you plan to shop there.

Beyond that, parents may want to ensure the toys are safe for their kids to begin with. For recall information and other news on potentially dangerous products, you can visit the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Image: Imgorthand

The post 5 Awesome Summer Gifts for Your Wired Kids appeared first on Credit.com.

7 Things You Can Do Now to Solidify Your Child’s Financial Future

There are plenty of things parents can do now to help set their kids down the right path financially.

If you have kids, or are considering having them, you’ve likely started thinking about what that will mean for your finances. But have you thought about how you can help your kids become prepared for their own financial future? There are plenty of things parents can do now to help set their kids down the right path financially. Here are a few.

1. Set up a College Savings Account

One of the most important things you can do is to consider how (and if) you’ll help them obtain a college education. An analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute found that in 2016, Americans with four-year college degrees made almost twice the average hourly wage compared to those without a degree. So a college degree is still important. However, you should never save for your child’s college at the expense of saving for your retirement. Instead, consider whether, and how much, you can responsibly save for both. (You can read this to help determine if a 529 college savings plan is the right avenue for you and this one about how much is enough when it comes to college savings.)

2. Have a Life Insurance Policy

Don’t think of a life insurance policy in terms of what would happen to your kid if you die. Consider it a way to ensure your child is taken care of in the future, no matter what happens to you. Talk to a certified financial planner if you aren’t sure where to start, or which option is best for you. (Or you can read this article that outlines seven essential documents to fill out.)

3. Put a Guardian in Your Will

Putting together a solid will so your child will be taken care of if something happens to you should be a top priority when estate planning. Picking the best guardian for your child is equally important. You can name two types of guardians — one to physically look after your child and one to look after their assets. Think seriously before simply naming your mom or best friend as your child’s guardian.

4. Open a Savings Account for Your Child

When it comes to helping kids become financially savvy, teaching them how to save — and why savings are important — is crucial. Your kid doesn’t have to be walking yet for you to open a savings account in their name. Ask your bank about a custodial savings account. Once your child is old enough for an allowance, you can discuss why everyone should have savings and how much to put away. Many experts say saving 20% of your income is a good way to build up a safety net.

5. Give Them an Allowance

Experts differ on whether giving kids an allowance helps them become financially savvy, how much to give and for what purpose (just to help them save, or in conjunction with chores, etc.). Research from T. Rowe Price, an investment management company, showed that children who receive an allowance are more likely to think they have a good understanding of basic financial topics than those who don’t get one. The important thing is to not give your kid an allowance and let him do with it what he will — you need to talk about money with your kid, as well. Discuss the importance of earning money and how to make it last.

6. Talk About Your Finances

Money is often a taboo subject in families, but it shouldn’t be. Consider talking to your kid about money early and often. A 2014 study from North Carolina State University and the University of Texas found that children pay close attention to issues related to money. Make sure you’re filling them in on the important facts. (View your free credit report snapshot on Credit.com to help see where you stand.)

7. Involve Them in (Certain) Financial Decisions

Your young child probably won’t help you save for a down payment on a new house or have detailed conversations about your debt-repayment plans. However, there’s no reason they can’t help put together a grocery list and come shop with you while you discuss how food costs money and the importance of family budgeting. Or perhaps on vacation, your kid can help decide how family money will be best spent on a few outings or can watch you fill up the gas tank to get an understanding of how much your road trip costs. Teach your kid early that it costs money to do fun things and how saving helps you achieve certain financial goals. You might be surprised how much your kid remembers later from your early — and repeated — money conversations in the future.

Image: szeyuen 

The post 7 Things You Can Do Now to Solidify Your Child’s Financial Future appeared first on Credit.com.

7 Things You Can Do Now to Solidify Your Child’s Financial Future

There are plenty of things parents can do now to help set their kids down the right path financially.

If you have kids, or are considering having them, you’ve likely started thinking about what that will mean for your finances. But have you thought about how you can help your kids become prepared for their own financial future? There are plenty of things parents can do now to help set their kids down the right path financially. Here are a few.

1. Set up a College Savings Account

One of the most important things you can do is to consider how (and if) you’ll help them obtain a college education. An analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute found that in 2016, Americans with four-year college degrees made almost twice the average hourly wage compared to those without a degree. So a college degree is still important. However, you should never save for your child’s college at the expense of saving for your retirement. Instead, consider whether, and how much, you can responsibly save for both. (You can read this to help determine if a 529 college savings plan is the right avenue for you and this one about how much is enough when it comes to college savings.)

2. Have a Life Insurance Policy

Don’t think of a life insurance policy in terms of what would happen to your kid if you die. Consider it a way to ensure your child is taken care of in the future, no matter what happens to you. Talk to a certified financial planner if you aren’t sure where to start, or which option is best for you. (Or you can read this article that outlines seven essential documents to fill out.)

3. Put a Guardian in Your Will

Putting together a solid will so your child will be taken care of if something happens to you should be a top priority when estate planning. Picking the best guardian for your child is equally important. You can name two types of guardians — one to physically look after your child and one to look after their assets. Think seriously before simply naming your mom or best friend as your child’s guardian.

4. Open a Savings Account for Your Child

When it comes to helping kids become financially savvy, teaching them how to save — and why savings are important — is crucial. Your kid doesn’t have to be walking yet for you to open a savings account in their name. Ask your bank about a custodial savings account. Once your child is old enough for an allowance, you can discuss why everyone should have savings and how much to put away. Many experts say saving 20% of your income is a good way to build up a safety net.

5. Give Them an Allowance

Experts differ on whether giving kids an allowance helps them become financially savvy, how much to give and for what purpose (just to help them save, or in conjunction with chores, etc.). Research from T. Rowe Price, an investment management company, showed that children who receive an allowance are more likely to think they have a good understanding of basic financial topics than those who don’t get one. The important thing is to not give your kid an allowance and let him do with it what he will — you need to talk about money with your kid, as well. Discuss the importance of earning money and how to make it last.

6. Talk About Your Finances

Money is often a taboo subject in families, but it shouldn’t be. Consider talking to your kid about money early and often. A 2014 study from North Carolina State University and the University of Texas found that children pay close attention to issues related to money. Make sure you’re filling them in on the important facts. (View your free credit report snapshot on Credit.com to help see where you stand.)

7. Involve Them in (Certain) Financial Decisions

Your young child probably won’t help you save for a down payment on a new house or have detailed conversations about your debt-repayment plans. However, there’s no reason they can’t help put together a grocery list and come shop with you while you discuss how food costs money and the importance of family budgeting. Or perhaps on vacation, your kid can help decide how family money will be best spent on a few outings or can watch you fill up the gas tank to get an understanding of how much your road trip costs. Teach your kid early that it costs money to do fun things and how saving helps you achieve certain financial goals. You might be surprised how much your kid remembers later from your early — and repeated — money conversations in the future.

Image: szeyuen 

The post 7 Things You Can Do Now to Solidify Your Child’s Financial Future appeared first on Credit.com.

Why You Should Open Up a Roth IRA for Your Kids

A Roth IRA is probably one of the most powerful retirement vehicles available on the market. Unlike a traditional IRA, the contributions made to a Roth IRA are pre-tax, which allows you to withdraw your money tax-free after age 59½ .

When it comes to a Roth IRA, it’s important to think of how you can use it in other ways too, namely, how your kids can use one to become financially successful one day. There are two ways unique ways you can use a Roth IRA to help your children.

The first way is to open one in their name that they can use to save for their eventual retirement. The second is to use a Roth IRA in your name as a college savings account.

Both of these options come with pros and cons, and it’s important to know them before deciding if either of them is right for you.

Opening an IRA in Your Child’s Name for Their Retirement

The challenge of opening an IRA in your child’s name is that in order to open an IRA in your child’s name, the child has to have a paycheck. You can see exactly what qualifies as earned income here. It might seem like this is impossible, but it’s not. Entrepreneurial parents all over the country who see the value in early retirement savings are taking advantage of this.

For example, if you run a business, you can employ your children to stamp your mail, be models for your brochures, and even manage your social media. As long as you issue them a 1099 or a W2 for their work, they are eligible to open a Roth IRA.

Another negative is that you can’t supplement your child’s income to reach the $5,500 cap on Roth IRA contributions. They can only put in what they earn up to $5,500. So if your child only earns $1,500 from working part-time at an ice cream shop one summer, they can only invest $1,500. However, if they earn $6,000 from that same ice cream shop, they can only invest $5,500.

When children have a Roth IRA in their names, the money is officially theirs. This is different from earmarking a savings account for them in your name. Instead, this is money that they earned going into an account that can benefit them in retirement. The biggest pro is that this is an awesome teaching tool for them. You can really show them how their money can compound and grow over the years.

Even if you start the Roth with a small amount and never touch it again, a one-time $5,500 investment (the current Roth IRA contribution limit) can grow to over $100,000 at a 6% return if your child lets it grow from age 12 to age 62. Fifty years of compounding interest will do that!

What an awesome gift that would be if your child never touched this until they were at their retirement age and got a bonus six-figure payout from work they did when they were a kid. That’s a good memory to leave with them.

Opening a Roth IRA in Your Name as a College Savings Account

Many people don’t realize that another great benefit of a Roth IRA is that you can use it as a college savings account. You could use a Roth IRA in your child’s name for their college savings, but let’s say your child doesn’t work, or if they do, you’d rather they kept the IRA for their own retirement one day.

If that’s the case, you could use your own Roth IRA for their college savings, and here’s why. According to Certified Financial Planner, Matt Becker, “If the money is used for higher education expenses for you, your spouse, your child, or your grandchild, there is no 10% penalty.” (Usually, if you withdraw earnings from a Roth before age 59 ½ there would be a penalty, but not if the money is used for college.)

The downside to all this is that if you use this money for your child’s college education, then you’re not saving it in your Roth for your own retirement someday, and that’s pretty important! The pro is that your money isn’t locked into a 529 plan where you have to use the money for qualified higher education expenses. Another interesting pro is that 529 assets are counted toward your Estimated Family Contributions on the FAFSA, but investment accounts, like Roth IRAs are not.

That said, it’s important to look very closely at the differences between 529 plans and Roth IRA plans if you want to use your Roth as a college savings vehicle. Additionally, if you are a high-income earner, you might not be able to contribute to your own Roth IRA unless you do what’s called a backdoor IRA. The current 2017 income limit for Roth IRA contributions is a $186,000 annual income for those who are married and filing jointly or $118,000 for those who are single.

As you can see, Roth IRAs are great accounts for a variety of different savings purposes, and you should try to think outside the box when it comes to using them to help your children create a bright financial future.

The post Why You Should Open Up a Roth IRA for Your Kids appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

15 Easter Basket Gifts That Won’t Give Your Kid Cavities

Easter doesn't have to rot your children's teeth. Here are some non-chocolate gift ideas for Easter.

With Easter approaching, you could dash out to the nearest big-box store and grab one of those premade baskets off the shelf. That’ll do in a pinch, but in case you don’t want a basket full of colored straw and plastic Easter eggs full of sugary snacks, here are 15 Easter basket stuffers that will provide tons of fun for your kids — without causing a trip to the dentist.

1. Pals Socks

Pals Socks come paired as unlikely friends, like a cow and pig, dragon and unicorn and polar bear and penguin. These mismatched socks ($9 at PalsSocks.com) are vibrant and super-comfy. Kids and adult sizes available (in case you want a pair for yourself).

2. Little Live Pets Hedgehogs

The Little Live Pets Hedgehogs come in six colors and are a joy to play with. Touch their noses and they curl into a ball and then unfold when it’s time to play again. Three LR44 batteries are required (not included). They’re for ages 5 and up. A single pack is available for $10.39 at Toys R Us. (Toys R Us offers free in-store pickup for online orders. Here’s our list of retailers that offer this service.)

3. Kikkerland Carrot Erasers in Basket

Every child artist needs erasers. These tiny Kikkerland Carrot Erasers in Basket ($5 at Kikkerland.com) come in their own farmer’s market wicker basket. They erase like a charm and are so darn cute.

4. PJ Masks Mini Wheelie Vehicles

Fans of Disney Junior’s PJ Masks will love the PJ Masks Mini Wheelie Vehicles from Just Play. Catboy in his Cat-Car, Gekko in his Gekko-Mobile and Owlette in her Owl Glider, can roll and race and they are just the right size for their little fans to play with. Ages 3 and up. Each vehicle costs $6.97 at Walmart. (Frequent Wal-Mart shopper? You can find a review of its rewards credit card here.)

5. Earth’s Best Organic Sunny Days Snack Bars

For something sweet(ish), the Earth’s Best Organic Sunny Days Snack Bars ($5.29 on Amazon) are available in apple and strawberry and taste so good kids won’t guess they’re healthy. Plus, they’ll be excited to see the Sesame Street characters on the packaging.

6. Surprizamals

Surprizamals are full of surprises. These collectible mini-plushes live in a plastic ball and are irresistibly adorable. For ages 3 and up, Surprizamals cost $4.99 at StuffedAnimals.com.

7. Welch’s Easter Fruit Snacks

A great alternative to candy, Welch’s Easter Fruit Snacks are available in chick, egg, flower and bunny shapes for Easter. And good news, one pouch of Easter Fruit Snacks has seven grams of sugar, as opposed to a Cadbury Egg, which has 20 grams of sugar. A 28-count box costs $4.99 at Target (full review of its credit card here) and at grocery stores nationwide.

8. Watchitude

Watchitude watches make fun and functional use of the slap bracelet trend. Watchitudes ($21.99 at watchitude.com) are available in lots of fun patterns, from sports themes to desserts. The kids will definitely want to learn to tell time if they haven’t already. (It’s a good idea to also teach your kids about credit, including the importance of keeping a good credit score. You can check yours free at Credit.com.)

9. Chick in Egg Zipper Plush

The Chick in Egg Zipper Plush is a delightful Easter basket surprise. The soft polka-dot egg unzips to reveal a sweet little plush chick. For ages 3 and up, Chick in Egg costs $9.95 at Papyrus.com.

10. Chef’s Cut Real Snack Sticks

Stick a few of Chef’s Cut Real Snack Sticks in the Easter basket of your carnivore kid. These tasty jerky sticks ($16 for eight at ChefsCutRealJerky.com) come in flavors like Buffalo Chicken and Japaleño Cheddar (pork and beef).

11. Playfoam Sparkle 4-Pack

For kids who love to squish and squeeze things like slime and magic sand, the Playfoam Sparkle 4-Pack by Educational Insights will be their new favorite. The colorful, sparkly and moldable dough holds a shape and never gets dry.  For ages 3 and up, a 4-pack goes for $4.99 at EducationalInsights.com.

12. Little Kids Peeps Giant Bubble Wand Party Pack

With the Little Kids Peeps Giant Bubble Wand Party Pack ($14.99 for a six-pack at Amazon.com), there’s enough bubbly fun for everyone. Each colorful tube is topped with a cute Peep and includes four ounces of bubble solution.

13. aGreatLife Sweet Ice Cream Kite for Kids

The aGreatLife Sweet Ice Cream Kite for Kids is small enough for Easter baskets but big and bright in the sky. The kite comes with its own instructional eBook and has a lifetime guarantee. A great excuse to get outside, it’s available for $11.99 at Amazon.com.

14. Alex Shrinky Dinks Mini Artist Activity Set

A fun indoor activity if spring hasn’t yet sprung, the Alex Shrinky Dinks Mini Artist Activity Set ($9.99 at Toys R Us) includes three Shrinky Dinks pictures, two frames, two easels and six pencils. Bake the colored-in pictures to shrink and frame.

15. Yoee Baby

Perfect for baby’s first Easter, the Yoee Baby will keep baby entertained with a teething ring, furry friend, bright colors, a rattle and crinkly spots for squeezing. Designed specifically for the developing minds of babies. Yoee Baby is available for $24.99 at Yoeebaby.com.

Image: Portra

The post 15 Easter Basket Gifts That Won’t Give Your Kid Cavities appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Basic Credit Lessons to Teach Your Kids

Your parents may have prepared you as best they could for the financial realities of adulthood, or they could have left you to figure it all out for yourself. But if you were taught the basics of finance and credit before you left the nest, you may have encountered less of a learning curve than your clueless counterparts. No matter your level of understanding, you likely have to do some learning yourself.

But now, if you’re the parent, one of your priorities is to prepare your kids for adulthood. Just as you would teach your children to dress themselves, ride a bike or do their laundry, you may want to impart lessons about credit to them to help them become successful and financially independent.

Here are five credit lessons you may wish to impart.

1. It’s Important to Regularly Check Your Credit Reports & Credit Scores

Credit reports and credit scores may seem like abstract concepts to teach your children. But you can use simple metaphors. School-age children can understand the concepts of grades and report cards, and these concepts apply to credit. The work you put into your credit is reflected in your credit report and credit score, which “grade” your performance. These grades can then be used to help you get “rewarded,” like by getting the best rate on a credit card or a loan, like for a car or home. (You can check out your free credit report summary on Credit.com, which includes grades on how you’re doing in the five key areas that make up your scores.) This brings us to our next lesson …

2. Credit Affects Their Life

Once your child understands the concept of a credit report and credit score, you can demonstrate how credit has affected your lifestyle. Many of your possessions — your home, car or credit card, for instance — were obtained using credit, and are examples of the power of credit. Of course, credit is not just a way to get “things.” It’s a tool that can help provide shelter, comfort and freedom.

3. There Are 5 Main Influencers of Credit

As your kids get older and have a firmer grasp on these concepts, they may be able to better understand how they can make credit work for them. You can show them credit is determined by five main factors:

  • Payment history
  • Debt usage
  • Age of accounts
  • Types of accounts
  • Credit inquires

If you own credit cards, have loans and monitor your credit report, you have teachable moments built into your financial routine. When your children are old enough, you can involve them as you pay a bill or check your credit report, explaining the process as you go.

4. Mistakes Can Cost You

Mistakes can be valuable life lessons for young people. But when it comes to credit, mistakes can be costly and their effects can be long-lasting. One late payment can cause your credit score to drop dramatically. And negative items such as accounts in collections and judgments can stay on your report for at least seven years. To a young person, seven years can be a long time to have difficulty obtaining loans or credit cards. You can also show them how errors on your credit report can be fixed by using this guide.

5. Credit Cards Are Merely Tools

Credit cards are not a magic wand for reckless spending, but they are also not inherently risky items to be avoided. They are tools. They can be invaluable to build credit and financial independence, but they can also be damaging if wielded incorrectly.

It’s no secret that young people can have trouble with impulse control. But you may want to impart that credit cards can be used responsibly or irresponsibly. The results will depend on the user.

Image: Liderina

The post 5 Basic Credit Lessons to Teach Your Kids appeared first on Credit.com.

3 Strategies to Teach Your Child to Invest

Chicago, Ill.-based actor Mike Wollner says at ages 7 and 10 his daughters are already learning how to invest.

Three years ago, Wollner opened custodial brokerage accounts for the girls through Monetta Mutual Funds, which has a Young Investor Fund specifically for young people to invest for the future. Through the fund, parents can open custodial brokerage accounts or 529 college savings accounts on behalf of their children, as well as get access to financial education and a tuition rewards program.

Wollner decided to open the accounts once his daughters began to nab acting gigs and earn an income. They’re already beginning to understand what it means to own a part of the world’s largest companies. “They will ask me to drive past Wendy’s to go to McDonald’s and say, ‘well, we own part of McDonald’s,’” he says.

Wollner hopes his daughters will have saved enough for college by the time they graduate high school. His 10-year-old’s account balance already hovers around $13,000, while his 7-year-old has a little less than $10,000 saved for college in her account.

The contents of the package a child receives in the mail when an adult opens a Monetta Mutual Young Investor Fund custodial account on their behalf.

The Value of Starting Young

The Monetta Fund is only one example of a way to invest on a child’s behalf. The downside to using an actively managed investment account like the one Monetta offers is that it comes with higher fees — the fund’s expense ratio of 1.18% in 2016 is higher than the 0.10% – 0.70% fees typically charged by state-administered 529 college savings plans.

In addition to 529 plans, parents can open Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, or other custodial brokerage or IRA accounts through most financial institutions like Fidelity, Vanguard, or TD Ameritrade.

A college fund serves as a great way to teach kids a little about the time-value of money, but they’ll need to know more than that to manage their finances as well as adults.

“There’s no guarantee that they are going to be financially successful because anything can happen in life, but you’ll be better off with those skills and have a better chance of being successful with those skills than without them,” says Frank Park, founder of Future Investor Clubs of America. The organization operates a financial education program for kids and teens as young as 8 years old about financial management and investing.

He says FICA begins teaching financial concepts at an early age with hopes that the kids who start out with good money management habits now will continue to build on them as they age.

“If they fail to get that type of training now, it may be years into their late 20s, 30s, or 40s before they start. By then it could be too late. It could take 20 years to undo the mistakes they’ve made,” says Park.

3 Ways to Teach Young Kids About Money

Use real-world experiences

Wollner has each daughter cash and physically count out each check they receive from acting gigs.

“They just see a big stack of green bills, but that to a child is cool. It’s like what they see in a suitcase in the movies,” says Wollner.

He then uses the opportunity to teach how taxes work as he has his daughters set aside part of the stack of cash to pay taxes, union fees, and their agent.

“They start to see their big old pile of money diminish and get smaller and smaller,” says Wollner, who says the practice teaches his daughters “everything you make isn’t all yours, and I truly believe that that’s a lesson not many in our society learn.”

Kids don’t need to earn their own money to start learning. Simply getting a child involved with the household’s budgeting process or taking the opportunity to teach how to save with deals when shopping helps teach foundational money management skills.

Park urges parents to also share financial failures and struggles in addition to successes.

“They need to prepare their kids for the ups and downs of financial life so that they don’t panic if they lose their job, have an accident, or [their] identity [is] stolen,” says Park.

Gamify investing

Gamified learning through apps or online games can be a fun way to spark or keep younger kids’ interest in a “boring” topic like investing.

There are a number of free resources for games online like those offered through Monetta, Education.com, or the federal government that aim to teach kids about different financial concepts.
Wollner says his youngest daughter benefited from playing a coin game online. He says the 7-year-old is ahead of her peers in fractions and learning about the monetary values of dollars and coins.

“This is how the kids learn. It’s the fun of doing it. They don’t think of it as learning about money, they think of it as a game,” says Bob Monetta, founder of Monetta Mutual Fund. The games Monetta has developed on its website are often used in classrooms.

When kids get a little older and can understand more complicated financial concepts, they can try out a virtual stock market game available for free online such as the SIFMA Foundation’s stock market game, the Knowledge@Wharton High School’s annual investment competition, or MarketWatch’s stock market game.

“The prospect of winning is what makes them leave the classroom still talking about their portfolios and their games,” says Melanie Mortimer, president of the SIFMA Foundation.

Anyone can play the simulation games, including full classrooms of students.

Aaron Greberman teaches personal finance and International Baccalaureate-level business management at Bodine High School for International Affairs in Philadelphia Penn. He says he uses Knowledge@Wharton High School’s annual investment competition in addition to online games like VISA’s websites, financialsoccer.com, and practicalmoneyskills.com, to help teach his high school students financial concepts.

Adults should play the games with children so that they can help when they struggle with a concept or have questions. Adults might even learn something about money in the process. Consider also leveraging mobile apps like Savings Spree and Unleash the Loot to gamify financial learning on the go.

Reinforce with clubs or programs

For more formal reinforcement, try signing kids up for a club or other financial education program targeting kids and teens.

FICA, the Future Investors Clubs of America, provides educational materials and other support to a network of clubs, chapters, and centers sponsored by schools, parents, and other groups across the nation.

When looking at financial education programs, it’s important to recognize all programs are not equal, says FICA founder, Frank Park.

“Generally speaking, you’re going to go with the company that has a good reputation of providing these services, especially if your kid is considering going into business in the future,” says Park.

The National Financial Educators Council says a financial literacy youth program should cover the key lessons on budgeting, credit and debt, savings, financial psychology, skill development, income, risk management, investing, and long-term planning.

Mortimer suggests parents also try getting involved at the child’s school by offering to start or sponsor an after-school investing club. She says many after-school youth financial education or investing organizations nationwide use SIFMA’s stock market simulation to place virtual trades and compete against other teams.

The post 3 Strategies to Teach Your Child to Invest appeared first on MagnifyMoney.