Please note, that these budgeting resources only apply to our Community Based Matches. Site Based Matches please check out the rest of our resources here.


Creating a Match Budget

Match Budgeting worksheets

Giving Gifts



Creating a Match Budget


MSS Emma was having a closure conversation the other day with a Big, and when asked what he learned from being a Big, the volunteer joked “man, kids are a blast, but boy can they be expensive!”

Having a Little can definitely be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! Setting a budget and including your Little in the process is not only a good way to save money, but it also teaches your Little what it means to be financially responsible.


Steps to creating a Match Budget:

  1. Reflect on what you’re spending as a match, and ask yourself the following questions: How much am I comfortable spending on an outing? Would I like to incorporate more free/low cost outings? Would I like to alternate free/low-cost outings with outings that are costlier?
  2. You can set a firm number for outings. For example, if you see your little twice a month, there are 24 outings in a year. Then think about what you’d like to spend. I.e. I plan on having a $25 maximum on 10/24 outings with my little. 10/24 outings will be free or low-cost. The other 4 outings we can spend more than $25
  3. Generate ideas with your little. Discuss your budget with them and include them in the process of planning the outings.
  4. Final things to consider:
    1. Think about free things in the city you would like to try together.
    2. Also consider how seasons might affect spending (although there are always free things to do in Chicago, it’s easier to spend an outing at the beach or at the park in the summer time).
    3. Think about outings that might be more expensive, but are things you’re dying to try together. Then consider when these outings should take place. Perhaps save the expensive outing for a celebration (after your match anniversary, or near your Little’s birthday).
    4. Finally, if you and your little have been dying to try something that breaks your budget as a Big, and you guys have been matched for over a year, apply for the Match Enrichment Fund. Matches can apply for grants of up to $500 to participate in an activity. Check out our Match Enrichment Fund page, and email your MSS for an application and more details.

Real Match Budgeting Example:

BB Paul and LB Justin have a strict budget of $10 per outing. LB Justin can either choose to spend his $10 the day of the outing (on Chipotle, or a movie ticket), or “bank it” and save the money for a larger more expensive outing (a trip to Dave and Buster’s). Recently, LB Justin bet his $10 for the day on a game of mini-golf while on an outing with BB Paul. Unfortunately, LB Justin lost the game, and chose to go to the library for his next outing since their next outing had to be free!


Match Budgeting worksheets


Want to teach your Little some math, better plan your outings, AND have fun while doing it?

Here are some handy-dandy budgeting worksheets that you can complete with your Little. Be sure to let your Match Support Specialist know that your match has it down pat when it comes to that Educational Achievement outcome!

Creating A Match Budget

Special Outing Savings


Giving Gifts


WOW the Holidays can add up! Between gifts, travel, and special holiday experiences all of our wallets are feeling a little empty these days.

Here are some great ways to keep gift giving (for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions) in your match at an affordable level:


Giving Gifts on a Budget

  • Give Memories: After all those outings, you’re bound to have some pictures stored up. Print a few out at the drug store to place in a cheap frame or turn this into a craft to do together by painting or decorating wooden frames
  • Games or a special deck of cards: These can be relatively inexpensive and can be found in great condition at secondhand stores if you are up for a search! These items can also be left in your car to pull out for a trip to the library or coffee shop.
  • Books: Also found in great condition at secondhand stores
  • Question A Day Book: This site has great printable sheets to make your own book or draw inspiration from. This will be sure to get some conversation flowing!


Gift Alternatives

  • Give a hobby: This seems tricky, but draw from your outings and Little’s interests. This is a kit that could be full of small things to discover together. Did your Little really enjoy the field museum? How about a bucket full of small dinosaurs, a shovel, packet of craft sand, and a book about the T-Rex. Did they like the Nature Center? How about a pot with some seed packets to plant together and watch grow!
  • Book of Coupons: These could be redeemed for a larger than normal outing, a trip to McDonalds instead of the farmers market, or for meeting your dog…again ;).
  • Volunteering together: Being able to help others is itself a gift, help your Little share the wealth!
  • A book/movie exchange: Each chooses a favorite book or movie to lend to each other until the next outing. Especially fun if it new to both of you!


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