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Fun Money for Kids, and Braces


So, yeah, we’re already saving for braces.  That was Jack’s x-ray when he went to the dentist last month.

I’m being punished for making fun of my sister for years for being “an orca” for having so many teeth it seemed like she had one pulled every few weeks.  And braces, and oral surgery, and the list goes on and on.  Note to self: karma is making me look like a giant douche.

Our dental insurance covers $1,000 for a lifetime of orthodontics work, but much like social security, I’m not counting on that money going too far when we actually need it.  So, rather than freak out in three to five years when it’s time for Jack to get braced up, I’m setting aside money now.  Each pay period, I take out a set amount of cash that includes spending money for Troy and me, money I squirrel away for us to have (few and far between) date nights, cash I stash if there is ever a power outage and our debit cards don’t work (tip courtesy of my friend Elaina), grocery money, and money for garden supplies.  A few months ago, I started setting aside $20 of that money in an envelope marked “braces”.  It always seems silly to save such a small amount, but in a few short months we’ve already saved $120 towards J Bone’s metal mouth.  I figure by the time he needs them, I’ll have stashed away almost $1,800.

I approach most larger purchases like that, as long as I know about them ahead of time.  Taxes, annual life insurance premiums, and Christmas are saved for, a little bit at a time for as long as I can manage.  I’m always amazed at how a little becomes a lot when given the chance.  That’s what she said.

The title of this post is fun money for kids, and braces.  We’ve covered the braces, but now I want to share a little tip with you about how we pay for fun excursions with Jack.  Recently, Troy and Jack spent the whole day in Seattle and took in the Harlem Globetrotters game.  They rode the Big Wheel on the waterfront, ate cookies as large as their heads (can you tell I wasn’t with them?), and had lunch.  Shelling out that kind of cash at once is a hit to the budget, but we never sweat such events because of our outlook on “kid’s fun money”.

Years ago, I made Jack a little cloth ziploc bag, and somehow it became storage for his fun money.  When my aunt and uncle watched him for all the years when I was working, I would put the ziploc in his backpack for their outings.  Once he started kindergarten and their outings ceased, I kept adding cash to it every pay period.  We stuff $20 a month in there, and months at a time will go by without us spending a dime. That usually is a result of being too busy, or nothing that interests us going on, but the “kitty” will grow and eventually a fun event will come up and bam, the money is there.

When you’re on a tight budget, being able to have special outings without stressing about the bill is great.  Saving up is rad.

What is your favorite way to save for big purchases?

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10 comments on “Fun Money for Kids, and Braces”

  1. It sounds like you and I think a lot alike when it comes to money matters. 🙂 My husband and I set aside certain amounts each month for any payments or events that only happen occasionally (car tags, birthdays, Christmas, travel). That way when the time rolls around for the even (or if I happen to find the perfect gift on sale) the money is already there.

    We haven’t started saving for braces yet (my little ones are still very little), but when we paid of my husband’s truck a couple years ago, we kept “paying ourselves” that car payment. We put it in savings each month so that when one of our vehicles eventually dies (or we simply outgrow my beloved Hyundai…) we’ll already have them money!

  2. I had braces for over three years and my husband is British so, yeah….. We are in for it, probably with all three of ours. When my husband had his braces (had to fit in as an American) we increased the amount going in to his Health Savings Account and used that to make the monthly payments.

    My strategy for Christmas shopping is buying things little by little through the year. And we buy almost nothing for our kids because they get SO MUCH from grandparents, aunt and uncles, and family friends. Which makes it easier to spend fun money on things like the zoo, children’s museum, etc

  3. I had braces as a kid and had to have teeth extracted because there just wasn’t enough room in my mouth for them all. When my oldest son’s adult teeth started coming in all crooked and crowded looking, I was sure the dentist/orthodontist (ours does both) would recommend getting him started on the palate “expander” and other devices like many of his cousins and friends had. However, the dentist told me to wait because my M’s jaw was still growing and it might not be necessary. I was skeptical, but we waited. Sure enough, by the time all his adult teeth came in and he got a bit older, his jaw had grown enough that the teeth all settled in nicely. This taught me that all the “pre-braces” devices aren’t always necessary.

  4. We set aside a certain amount every pay for presents. Christmas and birthdays. When the occasion comes around I take the designated amount and place it in a ziploc bag and pay cash for items. Once the money is gone and all I have is a bag of receipts, I am done shopping! It works AMAZINGLY well. If I run out of “things” to buy (for the kids- adults are S.O.L.) I wrap the ‘leftover’ cash for them. Adult’s leftovers get returned to the kitty. Everything evens out in the end, I think.
    I am laughing at myself for saying “kids” and “adults” though, because my kids are 18 and 22!!! And the oldest needed braces too. $3200 out of our pockets after we reached our coverage cap. It sucks, but her teeth are beautiful now. The other kid looked like she was going to need them when she was losing her baby teeth, but by some miracle, all her grown-up teeth came in lovely and straight.

    I love your ‘fun money’ approach. 🙂

  5. Shop around for orthod.s but braces run $6k around here.

  6. Such a smart approach to saving. We need to start doing this. I picked up a job working at the farm that my daughter (and soon I will)takes horse lessons at. We worked out a system where the first 30 hours a month pay for our lessons for the month, plus a lease on one of the horses (we get to ride him 3x a week outside of lessons). After those 30 hours, I get payed, but it’s cash which means I end up putting half of it into savings (for taxes) and the other half will be going to pay down our stupid CC and student loans.

    I hear you on the braces. We started taking Emma to an orthodontist when she was 6. We knew she was going to have problems when her baby teeth all grew in and there were no gaps between any of her teeth. She has had 6 baby teeth removed in the last 4 years and now we are just waiting for everything to fill in so we can pick and choose which adult teeth will need to go. She has teeth growing in front of teeth and two teeth trying to grow into a spot where there was only one before. On top of that, her mouth has started to ache because it seems all the teeth want to come in at once. Fun times.

  7. I had braces, a bridge, and two root canals. My husband also had braces and genetic abnormalities with his teeth that need to addressed if passed on. We knew we had to be prepared. We set up a savings for our oldest and each paycheck a little goes in. Birthday and holiday money also goes in. It’s a general fund for teeth, school, etc. We haven’t set up one for our newest addition yet. My hubby and I also allow ourselves allowance. We each get some money every other paycheck for our personal use. We auto save in a joint account each check and the rest goes in the kitty.

  8. You have the same way of saving that my husband and I do. It sounds like braces will be expensive so it is good to save a little each month, great plan.

  9. Having twins with horrible teeth courtesy of genetics, I can tell you the bill for both to have 8 teeth extracted (all 4 wisdom teeth and their 4 first molars for both) and braces was over $12,000. We got a family “discount” of $300 on the braces and thankfully insurance covered $2,500 per kid, but our out of pocket was still over $7,000.