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30+ DIY Halloween Decoration Ideas

halloween decor ideas

Decorating for Halloween is just what your house and yard needs to really give you that spooky October feeling. Here are some easy, DIY ideas for decorating your home this October:

If you’re not really into DIY projects, or you don’t feel like you have the time, you can always shop for decorations. It’s really nice when you can get deals on seasonal purchases too! The best way to get clearance Halloween decorations is to actually shop for next year’s decor after Halloween, when all their leftover Halloween stock goes on sale.

If you’re really in a rush, then you can check out your favorite store’s Halloween items right now by clicking the fast links below! They’ll take you right to the store’s Halloween decor pages.

Where to Decorate

Sometimes you need to decorate for a Halloween party you are having. Other times you just want to decorate for when trick-or-treaters come to your door. Or maybe you just like the Halloween season and you want to make your home feel delightfully spooky this time of year. Either way, there are key places to consider decorating when setting up for Halloween.

Front Porch

Transform you porch into some kind of scene! With some simple tricks you can turn your front porch into a graveyard, a pit stop for flying witches, or a home for a pumpkin village.

halloween porch

Front door

You can also jazz up your front door! You can make your door look like a monster, or wrap it in paper to look like a mummy, or decorate around it to make it look like the jaws of a monster opening up to swallow trick or treaters whole!

Yard

Decorated yards are especially eye catching. You can decorate your hard with mock murder scenes, fake gravestones, or rising zombies made from homemade scarecrows.

Living room

Make your main living space feel eerie by putting cut outs of werewolves and witches against the windows. You can also take thin sheets of black or red tissue paper and fit them over your lampshades to change the lighting in your living room. If you don’t have lampshades to cover in dark paper, you can paint your light bulbs themselves with non-water-based glass pain for the same effect.

Staircase railing

Your staircase is the perfect place to wrap up in cobwebs and lights!

Kitchen

The kitchen is a great place to take advantage of witchy themes. You can decorate with candy jars, a witch’s broom, and cauldrons ready to make yummy fall time foods.

DIY Halloween Decor Ideas

1. Make a scarecrow

You can easily make your own scarecrow people by filling up clothes with rags and pillows. Then you can use a pumpkin as the head! It doesn’t have to be a scarecrow either. You can recreate a stuffed vampire or the headless horseman too.

2. Jack-O-Lanterns

Jack-o-lanterns are a very old Halloween tradition and they make for great decorations too.

3. Scary pillows

You can sew scary pillows using old shirts! You can make an easy pillow case, and then cut pieces of fabric into eyes and mouths to sew up a little pillow monster friend! You can also use this technique to make the head to your scarecrow person.

4. Pipe Cleaner spiders

You can make your own spiders with black pipe cleaners! All you do is play around wrapping and bending the pipe cleaners together until you have a spider!

jack o lanterns

5. Make spider webs

You can make spider webs with paper, the way you would make a snowflake, or you can make them with giant trash bags. You can also pull apart cotton balls to make cobwebs.

6. Window cutouts

With big sheets of construction paper you can cut out silhouettes of witches, monsters, werewolves, and other frightful creatures. Then you just tape them against your windows and place lamps behind them to make it look like your house is full of ghosts and goblins.

7. Halloween banner

Make a Halloween-themed banner by attaching cut outs to a piece of string. You can garnish your banner with little paper bats, pumpkins and witches that you staple, tape, or glue to the rope.

8. Mummy

Make a mummy by taking a large stuffed animal, doll, or homemade rag doll and wrapping it up in toilet paper. With practically no cost at all you now have your very own mummy!

9. Halloween chandeliers

Make a bat chandelier, with cut out bats, string, and hoops from the craft store. Then you just tie and dangle the bats at different lengths from the hoop. Instead of bats you can also use ghosts, or origami black birds.

10. Little ghosts

You can make little ghosts with tissues, or tissue paper. Get balls from the craft store, then put glue on the ball and add tissue over the ball until it looks like a ghost. With sharpie draw it’s eyes and mouth, or glue on some eyes from the craft store. You can hang these guys in the air by gluing a string to the top of their heads

11. Mystery box

Make a spooky mystery box by painting cardboard boxes black. Cut holes into them for people’s hands to reach through, and then put things in the box for them to feel and guess what they are. You can use cabbage, noodles, olives, and anything else with a weird texture to freak the brave darers out.

12. Eye cutouts

Make eye that watch you in the dark by cutting out eyes in a large sheet of cardboard or construction paper. Then you can place two light sources (like flashlights) behind each eye to make it look like ppl are being watched.

13. Monster mailbox

Turn your mailbox into an open mouthed monster with paper, glitter, and craft feathers.

halloween center piece

14. Voo doo dolls

Use pieces of felt to sew simple voo doo dolls. You can also make them little skeleton people, or whatever Halloween person or creature you most like.

15. Witch’s broom

Get an older looking broom and leave it out as a witch’s broom. To add to the witch aesthetic you can take some shoes and stockings and stuff them so they look like the disembodied feet of the wicked witch of the east.

16. Witch’s hat

Make a witch’s hat with construction paper. All you need to do is make a cone with one sheet of paper, then make a large circle with another sheet for the rim of the hat. Then place the cone on top of the circle so you can trace out the hole for your head. Glue or tape all the pieces together and you have a witch’s hat that you can decorate to your choosing!

17. Chalkboard signs

Get chalkboards that you can stencil or write seasonal sayings on. This is a great thing to buy because you can use it for every season.

18. Gravestones

Get rocks and write gravestone sayings on them with paint. If you really want the gravestones to look creepy you can put just a little too much paint on your brush and let the paint drip downward a little on each word. Then place the stones in your flower bed or flowerpots.

19. Misty mirror

Make your mirrors misty by spraying them with hairspray. When you’re done partying for Halloween you can easily wash the hairspray off the mirror with your regular glass cleaner.

20. Spooky tree

Get a small dead branch from the lawn and put it in a pot as a spooky, spindly dead tree. Then you can decorate it with little black birds or lights if you want.

21. Little black birds

Make origami birds with black paper to give your house an Edgar Allan Poe feel.

22. Halloween doormat

Make a doormat for October guests by buying a cheap doormat, and using stencils to paint on the sayings or figures of your choice.

halloween candy

23. Mini Salem village

Make a little Salem village with painted bird houses. You can also make your own little houses with cardboard cutouts glued together, or popsicle sticks that you glue and stack into houses.

24. Candy jars

Fill see-through mason jars with Halloween candies and wrap the lids with Halloween festive looking ribbons. These can act as decorations you can eat throughout the holiday!

25. Halloween gingerbread house

Make a gingerbread house in October! Just use Halloween colored food dyes (like black, orange, purple etc.) in the icing, and use Halloween themed candies to decorate with. Who said gingerbread houses were only for Christmas anyway?

26. Crystal ball

You can make your very own crystal ball! You can get a glass ball from the craft store or get an undecorated Christmas ornament. Then just spray paint the glass ball with misty paints and place them on a pedestal of some kind, like a low bowl with dark fabric laid over it.

27. The living scarecrow

Pull some tricks of your own by dressing up as a scarecrow, grim reaper, or suited vampire and station yourself somewhere on the porch where trick or treaters will come by for their candy. If you hold very still, then trick or treaters will think you’re a prop! When you suddenly move you’ll give all your visitors a good scare.

28. Cereal killer

Use old cereal boxes and make your own cereal killer crime scene! You can paint faces on the boxes and laying them out in a comical murder scene. You can even make the scene a part of the party by having people deduce which of the cereal boxes did it, and how.

29. Leaf bag monsters

If you have leaves you need to rake up, then put them to decorating use! Put all your raked up leaves in big black bags, and then paint the bags to look like monsters have invaded your porch and yard.

30. Halloween mood lighting

You can give your house an eerie ambience by covering lampshades with colored tissue paper. You can even cut out images and scenes into the tissue paper to display things like hands, ghosts, and haunted forests on the walls and ceiling. If you don’t have lampshades, you can also paint the lightbulbs in a similar way. Just be sure to use a non-water-based glass paint so the paint doesn’t melt off the bulb.

31. Monster house

Make your whole house into a monster house by making key windows look like eyes, and the front door or porch area look like a toothy mouth. You can easily make cut out eyes and teeth with large construction paper.

halloween lighting

32. Halloween wreath

Wreaths make a nice touch on any door, inside or outside your house. You can make your own wreath very easily by getting a round metal wire base and filling it with ornaments of your choice. Be careful, and use hot glue to situate your materials together into the garland’s circle frame. There are many ways to put a spooky wreath together.

33. Halloween centerpiece

Dress up your kitchen table, counter, or coffee table with a Halloween centerpiece! You can use a piece of wood as a tray for things like pumpkins, or an assortment of candles or a flower arrangement with plants and buds of the season. The possibilities are literally endless for how you can accent your table surfaces in October.

 

It’s fun to make every holiday a festive time to remember. Decorations can help you give your home that haunted Halloween atmosphere you want this time of year. Making your own decorations with friends and family can also bring you all closer together during this fun and spooky season. And if payday just isn’t close enough and you need money for your Halloween party decorations right now, use a simple Check City payday loan to get part of your paycheck right now.

If you try any of these Halloween decoration ideas take a picture of it and share the picture with us on social media! You can find Check City on Facebook, or tag your post with #checkcity #halloweendecorations.


READ MORE

Make and even scarier misty mirror with this DIY hack, “Haunted Mirror – A Halloween DIY.”

Find more specific tutorials for DIY projects you can do this year, “25 Diy Halloween Decorations to Make this Year.”

If you’re decorating for a Halloween movie night, check out this article for some scary movie ideas, “80 Best Halloween Movies, TV Shows, and Podcasts.”

You’ll also need party food and beverages if you’re going to host a Halloween party, “Halloween Party Food Ideas.”


How Much House Can I Afford?





Maybe you are a first-time home buyer and have no idea what you are doing, or maybe you’ve bought a home before, but this time you want to make sure you are being financially savvy in your decisions. Either way, there are so many things that go into buying a house that the overall process can be daunting. But by understanding how to budget for a home, and taking advantage of your local financial services, you can tackle the house-buying world and how it applies to you on an individual level.

The process for buying a house is not going to be the same for everyone. We all have different financial situations, incomes, salaries, bills, debts, expenses, and spending behaviors. We even all have different desires, wants, needs, and hobbies that go into how we spend our income and will therefore also affect our buying options when looking for a home. All of these variables should be carefully weighed and considered as you embark on your home-buying journey.

First let’s go over some key home-buying terms that you will want to be familiar with . . .

Definition of Key Terms

For an even bigger list of terms and definitions that you might need to know when buying a house, see the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Home Buyer’s Dictionary Page.

The Principal

The price of a home can also be referred to as the principal, especially by mortgage lenders. It refers to the base cost of the home, and does not include interest, fees, or closing costs. Many people use mortgages to pay for their home, meaning you’ll want to figure out how much mortgage you can afford when shopping home prices.

Down Payment

The down payment on a home is whatever the buyer can pay of the total price upfront. The less money put down in the beginning, the higher the interest rate on the mortgage will be, and the more the buyer will have to borrow from a lender. But the more you can put down in the beginning, the less you will have to borrow, and your interest rate will be lower as well. It is always advisable to pay as much for the house upfront as you can.

Homeowner’s Association Fees (HOA)

Some communities will be part of a Homeowner’s Association (HOA). Communities with an HOA are part of a planned community that often comes with communal benefits and amenities, like a pool, or snow ploughing. HOA’s also often come with certain rules for those who live in that community—rules about lawn upkeep and such—so make sure you understand the requirements and benefits of the HOA before committing to a house in their neighborhood.

Property Taxes

Owning a home and property will require you to pay property taxes each year. The percentage you pay in property taxes will depend on the location and value of your home. When looking in different locations for your home be sure to also look into what the property taxes are like in that area.

Mortgage

A mortgage is the loan and payment plan you go on with a lender to eventually pay off your home. Unless you can afford to pay the entire price of the home upfront (100% down payment), you’ll need to take out a mortgage with a lender to help eventually pay off your home through monthly mortgage payments instead of all at once.

Mortgages come with different time periods to pay back the loan. There are 15-year mortgages, 30-year mortgages, and a 5/1 Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM).

  • For a 15-year mortgage your payments are going to go up more and more each year and your payments are going to be higher in general. But you’ll pay less interest overall and pay off your mortgage quicker.
  • A 30-year mortgage is going to allow for smaller payments, but in the long run you will pay more in interest, and it will take longer for you to pay off your mortgage.
  • A 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage is another kind of 30-year mortgage, but your interest rate stays the same for the first five years of the loan. After that initial five years, your interest becomes subject to whatever market changes there are for interest rates.
Homeowner’s Insurance

Homeowner’s insurance is insurance for your home. It can protect you when disasters, natural or otherwise, affect your house. It can even cover some of the costs for damages caused by natural disasters or crime. It can also protect your possessions in these same scenarios and help you to replace whatever was lost or stolen. It is not illegal to not have homeowner’s insurance, but many lenders will require it. There are two kinds of homeowner’s insurance:

  • Cash-value coverage will help cover the costs of damages when they occur, but won’t usually be enough to rebuild your home should you need to.
  • Replacement-cost coverage is insurance that will cover the total cost of your house if you should ever need to rebuild it due to disasters. Most advisers will recommend you get this kind of homeowner’s insurance since it covers more.
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

PMI stands for Private Mortgage Insurance. It is a form of insurance that lenders use to reduce their risks when a borrower can’t afford a down payment of at least 20 percent. Your lender will require a PMI when they are lending you more than 80% of your home’s total value. PMI is also a very costly form of insurance, but there are ways to get rid of it later by refinancing.

Interest Rate

Interest rate is a percentage of money added to your loan as payment to the lenders for borrowing a home loan from them. The interest rate you get on your mortgage will be determined based on your credit history and score. Usually the interest rate will be included in your monthly mortgage payments.

Credit History

Your credit history comes from your credit report and shows your history of paying debts and bills. It is meant to show how often you are on time or late in payments and your overall level of responsibility with your finances. Your credit history and score are what lenders will look at when deciding the interest rate they will put on your mortgage.

Credit Score

Your credit score differs from your credit history in that it is an overall score calculated from your credit history to show how much of a credit risk you are for the lenders. Instead of looking at an entire credit report or history, lenders can simply look at this score to get a quick, overall idea of your credit’s well-being.

Gross Income

Gross income refers to your total income before taxes.

Net Income

Net income refers to your total income after taxes. It is also referred to as “take-home pay.”

Understanding Mortgages

When applying for a mortgage, there are four main factors listed below that lenders will consider and that will influence the kind of mortgage and interest rate you can get:

  • Your income
  • Demands on your income, like debts, monthly bills, loans, and other expenses
  • Your credit history
  • Your credit score
Types of Mortgage Lenders

There are also five general categories of lenders that you can get your mortgage from, and each one comes with its own pros and cons.

  • Federal government agency lenders
    • Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
    • US Department of Agriculture (USDA): These mortgages can be for homes in more rural areas. The USDA can also be used to rebuild and rehabilitate old properties that qualify.
    • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): These mortgages are for veterans. You can even use them to make your home more accessible.
  • State government lenders
  • Nonprofit lenders
  • Local lenders, banks, and credit unions
  • Larger banks and lenders

The 5 Steps of Buying a Home

Step 1: Look at Your Credit Score

When starting the house hunt many people like to begin with the fun part by getting on Zillow and browsing for the perfect home. But you can’t figure out how much house you can afford on Zillow. If you are serious about buying a home, then you should look at your credit score before you start looking for a home. While looking at your credit score you will want to keep your eye out for the following:

  • See where your credit score is at—how good or bad it is.
  • Check your credit report for any errors and have them corrected.
    • Get on this now because if you need to correct your credit report, the changes will take some time, even months, to correct.
  • Look for ways you can better your credit score.
    • Figure out the reasons your credit score is lower than you want and develop plans to fix those issues or habits.
    • Paying down your general debt will also help your credit score.
Step 2: Do Calculations and Budgeting

The big question most people want to know when looking for a home is how much can I afford? There are many methods for figuring out your own budget for buying a home. Which method you choose will depend on what feels most comfortable for you. But in general, financial advisers will tell you to spend 2.5 to 5 times your annual salary on a home. Again, it is ultimately up to you where you decide to land in this range.
Method One: Based on Your Savings
People are generally advised to pay at least a 20% down payment. In order to figure out the amount of house you can afford based on what you have saved for a down payment, use the following equation:

Method Two: Based on Your Annual Income
If you want a quick estimate of the amount you can afford for a house, below is an easy calculation you can do based on your annual income.

Method Three: the 28/36 Rule
The 28/36 rule is a recommendation that your budget has no more than a 28% front-end ratio and a 36% back-end ratio. Lenders will look at both these ratios to decide your mortgage loan, so it is important to understand where you stand according to this ratio because this is how most lenders will decide what you can afford to borrow from them. When budgeting for a home, you can use this ratio to see if you meet these requirements and to see how financially ready you are to buy a home.

  • Front-end refers to your total housing payments (PITI) to income ratio.
  • Your total housing payments is not just referring to the Principal, but also the Interest, Taxes, and Insurance (hence, PITI). This front-end ratio means that you should not spend more than 28% of your monthly gross income on your total monthly mortgage payments.

  • Back-end refers to your total debt to income ratio (DTI).
  • This back-end ratio means that you should not spend more than 36% of your monthly gross income on debts. Debts include credit card payments, child support, auto loans, student loans, and any other debts you may have.

Dave Ramsey’s Advice

Dave Ramsey has influenced and guided a lot of people in their financial affairs with his knowledge. Below is some of his basic advice for buying a home:

  • Pay a 100% down payment in cash when you can.
  • Choose a 15-year mortgage over a 30-year mortgage.
  • Keep your mortgage payments (plus insurance and taxes) no more than 25% of your take-home pay (net income).
    So unlike the 28/36 rule, Dave Ramsey advises that your front-end ratio be no more than 25%, instead of 28 percent. He also advises that you use this percentage on your net income, or take-home pay, rather than your gross income, because this will better reflect the money actually going to your account after taxes.
What to Remember When Budgeting:

The Mortgage:
Just because a lender qualifies you for a certain amount that does not mean you should use it all. How much mortgage you can qualify for is very different from how much mortgage you should use. The maximum loan amount that your lender is willing to let you borrow, does not reflect your personal budget and what you actually want to be paying each month. This is why being able to do your own budgeting and calculations is important because then you can see and decide for yourself how much you are willing to borrow.
The Down Payment:
When preparing to buy a home, what you really want to be doing is preparing for the down payment. The higher a down payment you can afford the better.

Your down payment should be at least 20% of the total price of the house. But, you can find loans that accommodate lower down payments if that’s what you require:

  • Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration, the USDA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs are just a few options for low down payment mortgages.

Other Costs and Fees Associated with Buying a Home:

  • Closing costs and fees. Some examples of what may be included in the closing costs are appraisal fees, loan fees, attorney fees, and house inspection fees. Closing costs and fees will vary and depend on local tax laws and the cost of your home. If you want to estimate how much your closing costs might be, they generally range between 2 and 5% of the cost of your home.
  • Taxes, insurance, and HOA fees for certain neighborhoods.
  • Home maintenance, upgrades, and repairs: Homes need regular maintenance, remodeling, normal upkeep over the years, and repairs when emergencies and damages suddenly occur.
  • You’ll need to potentially buy appliances, furniture, and decorations.
  • You’ll be responsible for paying all your utilities, which can include, heat, electricity, water, sewage, trash removal, cable television, and telephone services.

Your Other Financial Goals:
Buying a home is a big financial goal and dream in life, but you probably have other financial hopes and dreams as well. Don’t forget to factor these in as you budget and look for a home. Some of these other goals may include general savings, saving for retirement, buying a new car, raising children, paying for their college, starting a business, vacations, trips, and any other hobbies, interests, or personal endeavors that may also require a place in your budget.
Know Yourself:
It is important to understand the kind of spender you are. This is another reason doing your own budget for your future house is a good idea, because then you can thoroughly be aware of your spending habits and therefore be more realistic when it comes to budgeting in a mortgage as well.

But you also need to be mindful of how you handle debt. For some people, being in a certain amount of debt can be stressful, while others don’t mind it so much. Be aware of whether having a larger mortgage on your hands is going to bother you or negatively impact your internal well-being. This will also factor into what you decide to do financially about budgeting for a mortgage.

You can also hire a personal financer to look over all these factors for you and take a more personal, detailed look into all of the many costs involved for you individually. Hiring a professional may be wise if you do not have the time or patience to look into these variables yourself. It is less wise to rely solely on a lender’s analysis because they will only look at income and credit history, and not consider your personal, bigger picture.

Step 3: Find Your Agent

Buyer’s Agent
A buyer’s agent is the kind of agent you want to be working with directly because they are meant to work with the buyer (you) and will thus work to get you the best price you can get.
Seller’s Agent
This is not who you want to be working with directly because they will be trying to get the best price for the seller. Though usually the buyer and seller agents will mediate offers and agreements and work alongside each other in that way.

Now it’s time for the fun part—the home search! After you’ve done all your budgeting and have all your ducks in a neat, planned-out row, you can begin to search for the home that fits your wants, needs, and budget!

Remember all the budgeting calculations you did above when you are filtering in your price range. It’s recommended to select a price range 10% above and below your calculations as a cushion when you are searching.

What to look for in location:

  • A healthy economy: low unemployment rates and good incomes
  • A good real estate market: look at whether the homes in the neighborhood are selling well, meaning they sell close to or above their asking price.
  • A healthy community: look for a range of ages in the residents and families nearby.
  • A good school district: even if you don’t have children, being in a good school district will help your home retain its value and make selling your home easier should you need to sell later down the road.
Step 5: Enter Your Contract and Close the Deal!

Once you’ve made your choice you can work with your agent to make an offer to the sellers. If all goes through, your agent will draw up the papers and officialize a closing date, which is usually 45 to 60 days after the offer was accepted by the sellers.

When entering into a housing contract you will first want to make sure you have the following common contingencies in your agreement. This means that your contract relies on these personal requirements being met first:

  • obtaining a mortgage
  • getting a home inspection

Buying a home is a big deal and naturally you want to be as knowledgeable and savvy about the basics as possible. By applying these basic rules you will know how to buy a home in the smartest way possible.


READ MORE
Visit the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for seminars and counseling about buying a home.


Visit the HUD’s common questions page for even more answers to your home-buying questions.


Use an online “How Much House Can I Afford” calculator to plug in your numbers and quickly see how much house you can afford.


Listen to NPR episodes about home-buying to learn more about the home-buying world.


FEATURE IMAGE BY BRENO ASSIS

How to Make Chores Fun for Kids!

kids-chores-fun

Too often chores for kids turn into a power struggle between parent and child. The parent has to constantly nag about chores while the child rebels against doing them, creating tension in the home.

This cycle of nagging and frustration surrounding chores isn’t healthy for anyone—parent or child. If everyone is left with a bad attitude, what have you really accomplished, even if the chore is done?

But not having your kids do chores isn’t a good option either. Chores help kids learn basic life skills and work ethic necessary to be functioning adults. Succeeding and failing at household chores is one of the first ways kids can grow their skills and confidence in their own abilities. So figuring out the key to making chores effective is actually bigger than simply keeping your house clean.

Chores Benefit Kids

For some parents having your kids do chores seems like a no brainer. But other parents may need some convincing. Kids can sometimes give such a hard time doing chores that it might not seem worth arguing. Kids also might not do the job very well and this can also lead parents to just want to do things themselves.

Parents aren’t just better at daily cleaning they’re usually faster and more efficient too. Other parents might not want to demand too much of their child and want their kid to just have fun and be a kid rather than having the responsibility of chores.

But for all these reasons there is a counter reason for why having your kids do chores is not only beneficial to you, but to your child as well. If you don’t have the patience or you don’t allow them to do chores than you are letting your kids miss out on a lot of benefits for themselves and their futures.

For children, everything is a learning experience and that includes chores. There are many things parents do to aid in the development of their children, like talking to them even when they can’t talk back, let alone understand you. Parent’s hold their child’s hands to help them walk even though the parent is really doing all the work. Parents must remember that doing chores is also teaching your children to do regular human tasks, just like you need to teach them to walk and to talk.

Chores are all about helping children eventually become self-sufficient. They need to walk on their own someday so we help them walk while they’re young and unable to do it well. They need to communicate by themselves someday so we talk to them and teach them words even when they still can’t understand us.

They also need to know how to take care of themselves and their living space otherwise this will be an area of struggle in their independent lives as adults. In fact, Professor Marty Rossmann, from the University of Minnesota, did a study where she found that if kids started doing household chores at around 3 to 4 years old, they were more likely to be successful adults when they reached their mid-20s.
Exterior Benefits
Exterior benefits are going to be the most obvious ones. The house will be cleaner which will be more enjoyable for everyone, and the workload won’t be all on the parents. By having your kids help out in any way, you reduce your own workload and your house will be cleaner with less effort on your part!
Interior Benefits
Having your kids do chores actually benefits them more than it benefits you. Below is a list of the many reasons why household chores are beneficial for the inner growth and development of your child.

Builds Life Skills

Doing chores and the family perspective behind doing them have a greater impact on a child’s success in life than parenting style, IQ, gender, or the type of task. The skills they gain from chores go far beyond the household, or their time living at home. These skills transfer to many more aspects of their life and will be the skills they use to have success in all aspect of adulthood.

Builds Confidence

A child begins to create their own mental image of themselves at home. Chores build a child’s confidence and positive self-image in many ways: By doing chores they learn they can be productive, successful, and accomplish tasks set before them. They learn that they can become competent at the things they work on and that they can contribute in meaningful ways as a valued member of a team (their family).

It also teaches them that they can have a level of control over maintaining their own environment. All of these things boost a growing person’s confidence, leading them to lead more confident and successful lives in the future.

Another way that chores build confidence in kids is through their failures. When kids are first learning to do chores they often fail. The first time a kid sweeps the floor they may miss a lot, or the way they fold clothes might not be as tidy if you just did it.

But if you see their failure and just do it for them, then you’ll teach them that they are failures who are so far from succeeding that they shouldn’t even try and someone more competent, like yourself, should just do it for them.

This is key for parents to remember because chores are not just so kids can help out around the house and alleviate the parent’s workload. Chores are also an integral part in a young person’s development and therefore has a learning curve.

Helps Them Practice Self-Care

kids-self-care
Caring for the space you live in is a big part of caring for yourself. Chores provide some key habits that help people maintain their mental and emotional health as well as outward hygiene. Living in a clean and organized environment is an important element in a person’s mental well-being, and by having your kids do chores you give them the power and know-how to create that healthy space for themselves.
Cleaning Their Own Room
Many children and teenagers struggle with keeping their own room clean. Since it’s their own space you may think it’s not a battle worth waging, but many times in life we end up sharing our personal space with others, like roommates, friends that come over, or a future partner.

Maintaining your own room is also part of personal grooming and hygiene. If you teach your kids now to keep their stuff together then other aspects of their life will be more put together as well.

A messy room also creates a stifling atmosphere. A lot of the angst you may be dealing with from your child may partly be because their personal space is messy. Cleaning their own room helps kids learn how to better take care of themselves.

Teaches Self-Motivation and Responsibility

If you persist, and start at a young age, you can teach your kids to eventually be self-motivated about getting their own chores done. You can also teach kids responsibility, a quality that will serve them well in all other parts of their lives. Giving them the chores also helps them practice being responsible for something. Being responsible and self-motivated are necessary traits for success later in life in their education and their jobs.

Social skills

Chores teach the value of working and cooperating with others. Not only do you learn to work well with others while doing chores, but you learn how to better communicate with others as well. They have to communicate when they need help or when they don’t know what to do next. You can also take the opportunity while cleaning together to just chat and enjoy some one-on-one time together.
fail-family-endure

It’s Ok to Fail

Chores offer a unique opportunity for kids to safely fail and try again at something. Much of life consists of trying, failing, and trying again, and chores are a great way to give kids this practice in a safe environment. With chores they can learn what it means to try again and again at something until they finally succeed.

Setting Up Your Family’s Chore System

There are many ways to set up a chore system. There are also thousands of chore chart templates and ideas online that you can work from. You can find all kinds of free chore charts online, and even free printable chore charts. Having special chore charts for kids can also make doing chores seem more like a fun game than a responsibility. There are point systems, reward systems, and chore assignments that rotate every week or every month.

Figuring out what works best with your family is probably going to include plenty of trial and error. Here are some suggestions that could help turn chores for kids into a bonding experience for you and your children and make managing chore assignments easier.

Cultivate the Right Perspective

Part of cultivating the right perspective around chores is not overwhelming them, letting them make choices, and not using chores as a form of punishment. Household tasks are a necessary part of everyday life, like eating and sleeping. They should be treated as a routine part of life for everyone and not as an extra burden being forced upon them.

Don’t Overwhelm Them

No one likes doing things they don’t feel capable of doing. As an adult it may be hard to understand, but for children something like cleaning their entire bedroom by themselves can seem like an impossibly giant task. A common problem between kids and their chores is getting them to do their chores in the first place. Getting overwhelmed and burnt out by the task is the primary thing keeping them from taking initiative with their chores.

A child’s workload is going to look different than an adult’s workload. Likewise, their workload is going to look different depending on their age. You might be able to easily spend an hour or two cleaning and organizing, but for a child that feels like a whole day and they become burnt out in the same way adults working overtime might feel burnt out. They have smaller bodies and their brains are still developing to withstand the mental fortitude needed to work and focus for that amount of time.

Try dividing the job up into smaller, defined tasks
If you just tell your child to clean their room they might more easily become overwhelmed and lose focus, leaving the job uncompleted. But if you divide the task of cleaning their room into smaller chunks they can more easily know how to tackle that job on their own. So instead of asking them to clean their room, have them go through a checklist of smaller tasks like,

  1. fold and put clothes away
  2. put toys in the toy bin
  3. make the bed

This may seem tedious to some adults but you have to remember the level of development you are working with. Children aren’t adults in smaller form, they are still growing in mental maturity and capacity and this fact carries over into their ability to do chores.

Think of it this way: in school you weren’t just told to write a 20 page paper. First you learned the alphabet, then you learned words, then sentences, then paragraphs, then you wrote a page, and from there you kept working up to writing larger and larger page assignments. Kids need this same principle of education in learning how to clean as well.

Let Them Make Choices

Involve your kids in deciding what chores they do. Another thing that makes it difficult for kids to get their chores done is feeling like they have no choice in the matter. No one likes being forced to work. As an adult you probably do chores because, at some level, you want to—whether you’ve grown to enjoy the work or because you want the results of the work.

Giving kids a sense of choice in their chores helps them feel more motivated to do them. Involving them in choosing their chores also helps them practice making decisions and coordinating workloads with others.

Don’t Use Chores as a Punishment

One way to make your kids hate chores is to use them as a punishment for bad behaviors. If they associate helping out around the house with punishment, then you’re quite possibly setting them up to be a slob for life.

Start Younger Than You Think

When kids are as young as 18 months they often naturally start wanting to help out around the house. This may seem very young but you should let them.

You might be tempted to scoot them away when they express interest in helping with something, because obviously they aren’t going to be very good at it. But if you take the time to include your kids in chores at a very young age, then they’ll be much more likely to have a good attitude about helping around the house as they get older.

Age Appropriate Chore Lists

Along with starting younger than you think with chores, make sure you are giving your kids age appropriate chores. It can help to have a chore list that you can work from to let you know what chores are accessible to which age groups. Below is a list of age appropriate chores that become doable for each age group:
Toddlers

  • Put their toys and books away
  • Help wipe up spills
  • Let them “play clean” beside you as you clean

Young Children

  • Make bed
  • Clean room
  • Put their things away
  • Fold laundry
  • Set the table
  • Help cook simple things
  • Feed pets

Older children

  • Clean room
  • Do laundry
  • Vacuum
  • Sweep
  • Mop
  • Dust
  • Empty trash
  • Wash dishes
  • Clean the bathroom

Teenagers

  • Babysit
  • Yard work
  • Do laundry
Schedule Chore Time

Designate a specific block of time when everyone in the house pitches in. If chores are part of a routine, and siblings and parents are all involved, then your children will need less reminders and less nagging. They’ll also feel more like a contributing member of the family, which can develop into a good motivating factor.

One fun way of doing this is to make a music playlist for chore time. You can pick a time each day where you do chores, like after dinner, then turn on your playlist and everyone works until the playlist is done.

“Gamify” Chores

The term “gamification” refers to turning a mundane task into a game. Household chores offer an incredible opportunity for gamification, and you and your children’s creativity is the only limiting factor.

You could turn cleaning time into a dance party, or have a race to see who gets done first. Another classic gamification technique is to create a “sticker chart,” but instead of a regular calendar sticker chart, turn it into a board game where their stickers lead to a winning destination.

Rewards for Chores?

The purpose of rewards for doing chores should be to teach them that cleaning has natural benefits, not necessarily that doing regular housework will earn them money. For example, once the kitchen is clean they can have dessert or watch their favorite show, or maybe once their room is clean they can have friends over.

Another reason to reward your kids for doing chores is to acknowledge the work they’ve done. Children want approval and appreciation and after chores is as good a time as any to give it. Just like with criticism, you don’t only want to hear from your boss about what you did poorly, you also want to know what you are doing right. Your kids need to hear that too, after all, rewarding success is more effective than only disciplining failures.

For younger kids you can teach them stuff while they clean, like count the toys as you put them away, or say the color of the book and put it on the shelf with similar colors.

The Parenting Press advises parents to not give allowance for chores because in real life you don’t get paid in money to do regular household work. Children need to learn to maintain their living space for that sake alone.

Conclusion

Parents want chores to be a positive part of their child’s life. You want to instill the right perception, facilitate their development and growth, and make chores a bonding experience. Keeping a tidy home should be something that everyone participates in and everyone enjoys doing. So stop nagging, and use chores to help bring your family closer together.


READ MORE
Check out Jessica Lahey’s book, the Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So their Children Can Succeed, to read more about how chores and failure can help your child grow.

4 Investments Worth Making

worthwhile investments
 
With the Up’s and Down’s the economy has experience over the last several years, many people have been left asking the question, “Are there any truly safe investments that can be made these days?” In today’s post we’ll cover the top 4 investments that are still worth making.

1: A House

house investment
 
A home is one of the most worthwhile investments you will ever make, and what an investment that will be. It may take you decades to pay off your house, but the nice thing about houses is that they increase with value over time.

The value of real-estate rises over time like the value of a car falls, it’s predictable. Your investment will pay itself off and more should the need ever arise to move or sell.

With that in mind, any land you may own will have the same effect. As the amount of available land decreases, prices for land that you own increase.

It’s the law of supply and demand. The less supply available, the more someone is willing to spend when the demand rises. With that being said, be wise when it comes to making your home purchase as well as the improvements that you make during your time living there.

As we learned in 2007 there can sometimes be artificial inflation that happens in the housing market, buying during those times can lead to severe financial turmoil. In addition to being careful when you buy, be careful what improvements you make, understand that some improvements such as landscaping don’t give you as much bang for your buck when it comes time to sell as a remodeled kitchen or bathroom.

2: A Steady Stock

stock investment
 
Certain stocks have shown steady, predictable growth over the years and are therefore, safer to invest in. Oftentimes the growth is slow, but it always moves in the positive direction.

When you plan on putting aside money for a number of years, consider investing it in a steady stock instead of a bank. Your money will appreciate better in an investment rather than a holding cell.

3: An Education

education investment
 
If you don’t have a post-secondary degree yet, get one. On average, salaries take drastic turns for the better with every degree you get. You are worth more when you have learned more. You come to the table with more to offer, and are therefore a competitive employee. If a company wants you, they’re going to have to pay to keep you.

That’s the beauty of an education. It represents quite the financial investment, but the jobs and salaries that follow are well worth the time. They more than pay themselves off with time. If you have one already, see if there’s anything more that you can be doing to increase yours, ie. attending conferences and keeping up with recent literature.

4: Invest in a Friend

invest in people
 
There is untold power in investing in the people around you.

Studies have shown that there is a correlation between the people that give more and the people that earn more. Some say it comes from a social responsibility. When you’ve been given so much, you are responsible to give to others. The more you give, the more you’re blessed with. Others will say it’s a weird coincidence. Science can’t figure it out, but the phenomenon remains.

The more you invest in the people around you, the more money you are likely to make. You will never know though until you give it a shot. On top of that, you’ll be doing something to make a difference in people’s lives. Whether you give them a fish and feed them for a day, or teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime, the results will be the same.

For one, you’ll help someone, someone that needs help like you’ve needed in your life. For another, you’ll share an excellent example to those that might continue the legacy themselves (like your children).

Finally, and least importantly, you’ll feel great about what you did—changing someone’s life. Invest in the people and community around you. This doesn’t always mean you invest monetarily. Many times it will simply be getting to know someone new, offering a listening ear, or showing someone that’s ignored that you care. No other investment will give you the return of investing others. This is the best investment you will ever make.


READ MORE
Take a look at “Planning Investments while Budgeting” to learn more about how you can include your worthwhile investments in your budget.

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