Tag Archives: saving money

From a Marqeta Mom: Marqeta Means More

Hey friends!

My recent post about Marqeta & and the cesspool of deep discounts was reposted on the Marqeta blog.

Check it out:

From a Marqeta Mom: Marqeta Means More.



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Filed under Family

Marqeta Means More

I’ve been talking about saving money a lot lately on this blog. Well, a lot for me!

Discounts, deals, extreme couponing… I don’t know if it’s just the economy or a fad or a cultural shift or all of the above, but you can’t shake a stick without hitting an offer for a deal or discount. I first became aware of it when Groupon hit Portland, I guess about two years ago. Brian had been getting their emails for a while, but we hadn’t joined any deals. I was co-chairing the Beaux Arts Ball at the Portland Art Museum, and the week of the event we got a call from Groupon asking if we would put the event on Groupon. Tickets to this fundraiser were $125 each. Groupon wanted us to offer the tickets for $50, then they would keep $20 and the Museum would get $30. $30 a person would not even cover the cost of food & beverage at a party like that. I couldn’t understand why they would think we wanted a hundred extra people at the event that would end up costing us money. At a fundraiser!

Since then, I’ve taken advantage of a few Groupons and Living Socials etc. But I always worry about the merchant. I want to ask them if they’re getting screwed, and if getting all these extra people in their doors is really paying off in the end.

People seem to be addicted to these specials and deals, though. It’s part of our culture now, and I’m not sure we realize the value of the services or goods we’re purchasing. I’m all for saving a buck when I can, but feels like the opposite of a market bubble. A market cesspool? It can’t last because it’s not sustainable.

Along comes Marqeta, with a whole new model that works for both merchants and consumers.

Marqeta is like a multi-merchant rewards card. Think of as your Starbucks Gold Card, but for multiple merchants. You commit to spending a certain amount with various merchants, and they all give you more to spend. Some current offers in Portland:

Commit to spend $125 at Finnegan’s Toys & Gifts, get an extra $25.

Commit to spend $50 at Pizza Smizza, get an extra $10.

And all of it is on one card! I used my card just like a debit card, and I didn’t have to worry about keeping track of coupons or printing out a piece of paper.  The Marqeta model is also good for merchants, because it’s not costing them nearly as much to make these offers. Instead of discounting, they’re just giving you more, and the fees they pay to get involved are much much lower than Groupon and friends.  I really think this thing is going far, since it’s much more sustainable in the long run than the reverse bubble/cesspool of deep deep discounts.

Here’s the challenge for us as consumers: Marqeta is so new, that your favorite grocery store, boutique, jeweler, hardware store, pet store, etc, needs to hear from you that they should join the Marqeta merchants. Tell Marqeta what merchants they should be talking to. I keep hoping for Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s!

Sign up for your card here. It’s free and easy, and you don’t have to assign a funding source until you’re ready to take an offer. Then recommend merchants. Better yet, link up your favorite merchant on their Facebook page (so the store will see it, to!).

I’m curious to hear your thoughts about this reverse market bubble, and where you want to shop with Marqeta!

Happy shopping,


Disclosure: I am a Marqeta Mom Ambassador and am compensated for my time, but as always, all opinions are my own.


Filed under Home

Holiday Budget: don’t blow it!

I don’t actually go shopping very often for anything other than groceries or things for the kids. I think about it quite a bit, but I rarely take time to do it. Mainly because I have other things to spend my money on than fun things for me. I get most of my clothes from naked lady parties and my fashionable friends’ castoffs.

So whenever I have an excuse a need to actually go buy things – like presents for other people – I inevitably find a lot of things I want to buy for me.

So how does one stay on budget with all of this temptation?

Easy: I don’t use credit cards.

I make a list of all the people for whom I am buying presents, and jot down ideas for each one {Actually, I have a running list going pretty much all year}. Then I figure out how much I have to spend based on – wait – this is radical – how much money I actually have. I know this seems crazy and weird. And maybe even un-American. But there you have it.

This year, I plan to use my Marqeta card to do as much of my shopping as possible. Marqeta is like a pre-paid debit card, where you commit to spend a certain amount of money at a merchant, and the merchant then gives you additional dollars to spend. For example, I load my card with $125 for Finnegan’s Toys & Gifts, and I get an additional $25 to spend there. Who doesn’t love free money? One of their merchants is a kitchenware/household goods store – and it looks pretty good, with everything from kitchen gadgets to toys.

All this won’t stop me from actually taking a day to go shopping downtown with Dayl, mind you. It’s too much fun and such a rare pleasure!

How about you? How do you stay on budget during the holidays?

Cheerfully and frugally,

Mamavation is a community dedicated to healthy living for women.

Disclosure: I am a Marqeta Mom Ambassador, but as always, all opinions are my own.


Filed under Fitness

Better Than a Piggy Bank

We’ve been talking a lot about saving money lately, and my mother-in-law Judy even wrote a guest post about it. We are setting some easily-attainable goals for the kids, and encouraging them to earn money by helping around the house.

We have a few different piggy banks, a zebra bank, and a really awesome bank that my mother in law made for Anna when she was a baby. But I wanted a way for the kids to see how their pile of change was adding up, so I combined our love of making a mess doing craft projects with our need for new money vessels.

I jabbed a slit into the tops of two canning jars, and we started gluing things on! The key is to keep the lid free and clear enough to be able to open it up whenever we need to count it or when it's finally time to buy something.

We also made sure to leave a clear space on each jar so we could see the money adding up.

I tied the bow for Anna, otherwise she did it all herself. Eric wanted Lightening McQeen on his, since he's saving up to buy a specific toy car. Anna still is fixated on Disney World, so I'm trying to help her identify something more immediately-attainable to save for that she can take to Disney World!

What do you think? I’m really loving these jars. It seems more exciting to put the money in when the kids have decorated the jars themselves!



Filed under Family, Home

Teaching Kids the Value of Saving Money {Guest Post by Judy}

I’m delighted to introduce you to my mother-in-law! Judy is a very smart lady, and she raised a really awesome man that I was fortunate enough to marry. I wrote a recent post on teaching kids (and myself!) to save and value money, and it struck a chord with Judy. So here is her response. I hope she writes a follow-up on helping your kids plan a budget!


My daughter-in-law, Krista Swan, recently asked how to teach young children to save money. This is a subject that I have thought long and hard about. I believe that good money management is one of the most important lessons we can teach our children and learning to save is the place to begin.

Break the cycle of instant gratification • Lead by example and save the money before you buy something. Let your child know that you would really like to have that new computer (substitute your own want here) and then show them that you have to save the money before you buy it.

Help your child save for something he/she really wants • Choosing the right goal may be a bit tricky. Start slow and set the bar low enough that your child won’t get too discouraged before it is reached.

Provide a means to earn money • You may want to give your child an allowance which can depend on him/her doing some chores around the house. Paying for additional chores will help promote a good work ethic and allow your child to reach the goal more quickly. If you choose to do this, resist the temptation to grossly overpay your child. It could distort the value of work. Birthday and holiday gifts can help the money add up quickly and allow the child to make larger purchases.

Count the savings regularly • Encourage your child to count their savings and plan for reaching the goal. Watching the money add up gives encouragement and they learn to count money.

Let your child make the purchase • The big day is finally here – make this a huge event! Take your child to the store and let them pay for the item by themselves.

They are going to make mistakes but resist the urge to step in when they decide to blow their savings on something that you consider worthless, money they save should be theirs to spend as they choose – within reason.

This is the easy stuff – the real fun begins when your child is old enough to learn about budgeting!



Filed under Family

Learning to Save

This post was underwritten by BMO Harris Bank, which offers a matching $25 on a new savings account opened for your child through their Helpful Steps for Parents program. Learn more at bmoharris.com/parents.

I am not a good saver of money. I have money, I want to spend it. It’s terrible. For this reason, I have set up all kinds of automatic savings processes thereby eliminating my ability to spend my money before it goes in to savings. Some comes out of my paycheck into retirement savings, some automatically goes from checking account to savings. So how does a non-saver teach her children how to save?

Fortunately for me, my husband is much more fiscally frugal/wise/conservative than I am – so that helps.

But here’s how we are helping our kids to understand the value of money:

• Piggy banks, everywhere • The kids have several piggy banks spread throughout the house. Whenever loose change shows up, we say, “Quick! Put it in the piggy bank!” Anna is saving up for our next trip to Disney World. I’m pretty sure Eric thinks his is going towards a robot.

Make comparisons and prioritize • When we’re out shopping and the kids ask for this or that, I ask them to read the price to me. We’ve even gone over to look at the prices of milk and fruit to compare.  Getting through a grocery store with kids is hard enough, so I don’t take this much time a lot, but it does help stop the constant refrain of, “Can we buy this?”  If I’m letting them choose something to buy, we talk about the expense and how long each item might last. Anna in particular is really impressive in her ability to put off an instant gain (small toy now) for something better (Disney World) down the road.

• Counting games with coins • The kids are really in to counting things!  We like to play counting games with change, and they’re starting to get the monetary value of each one. Not that coins will be terribly important in the future – don’t you worry sometimes that coins will go away? I’m not sure why I’m nostalgic about pennies, but I am.

One of our favorite stops at the Hollywood Farmers Market

• Let them pay for some things • Especially at the Farmers Market, where we are interacting directly with the producers. There is something powerful about exchanging dollars for honey with the person who produces the honey.

Why do I go to work? • At least once a week, little Eric asks me, “Why do you have to go to work?” {my heart breaks every time!} I used to just say, “Because I have to!” But for the last several months, I’ve been answering, “So we have money for our house and for food and to go on trips!” We’ve had a couple of lengthier conversations about it, because I think it’s good to normalize the concept that we need money to do the things we have to and want to do, and that we have to work to get that money.

I never say we can’t afford something • We are not poor. We are not rich, but we are not poor. We live in a wonderful house with the most amazing neighbors, in a city we love full of trees and access to nature. We have enough food and clothes. So no, we are not poor. If the kids want to buy something and I don’t, I don’t say, “We can’t afford it.” Instead, I say, “We’re not choosing to spend our money on that right now.” I just think it’s good to manifest abundance instead of manifesting need or want!

So what do you do to help your children save and teach them the value of money? This non-saver could use some additional tips!


UPDATE: My mother-in-law wrote a guest post on this topic!
UPDATE: We made our own “piggy” banks
I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. To learn more about BMO Harris Bank, visit their website http://bmoharris.com/parents.


Filed under Family, Travel, Work