Make Frugality a Family Affair

by Nancy Twigg

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Are "They" Ruining Your Finances?

Does it ever seem that no matter how hard you try to save for the future, all your kids want to do is spend, spend, spend?

Shopping at the malls, dinners at McDonald's, birthday parties at the arcade. None of these expenditures seem very large, but put them all together and the dollars add up fast. Before you know it, the month is gone, and so is the money you intended to save.

Does this sound familiar? If living and spending more frugally is on your list of things you'd like to accomplish, the time to enlist the support of your kids is now. Without their help, you'll soon find your efforts to save undermined by your children's tendencies toward consumerism.

Frugality works best when it's a team effort among all family members. By teaching them the ins and outs of careful spending now, you train your children and equip them with money management and decision making skills they'll inevitably need later. Here are some ideas for making frugality a family affair.

  1. Discuss financial goals with the children. Maybe your family's income was drastically cut when you or your spouse became a stay-at-home parent. Or maybe you want to purchase a larger home or new car. Children are capable of understanding these things. Be honest with them. Help them understand that although the family is going to have to sacrifice, everyone will benefit from having Mom at home or moving into a larger home.

  2. Get their suggestions on ways to save money. You might be surprised at what your kids can come up with when given the challenge of reducing expenses. Even if some of their ideas are not feasible, commend them for their efforts. Use their input as a starting point for discussing other options.

  3. Find low-cost alternatives. When the kids understand why expenses must be cut, get their input on free or low-cost alternatives to expenditures that need to be reduced. If ordering pizza has become a costly habit, talk to the kids about what could be done at home that would bring just as much enjoyment. Maybe a "homemade pizza night", where they help make the crusts and put on the toppings, would be just as fun as spending $12-15 for pizza delivery.

  4. Show them ways they can help save. Little things do add up. Remind the children of things they can do such as turning off lights or using dishtowels for spills rather than paper towels. Be sure to praise your kids each time they do these things without being reminded.

  5. Think of family projects to earn extra money. Cutting back doesn't have to mean cutting out all the fun. If the kids want to go to Disney World next summer, discuss projects the family can do together to earn money for the trip. Is there a neighbor who needs someone to rake leaves or do yard work in the spring? The vacation will be even more fun for the kids because you all worked for it together as a family.

Nancy Twigg is a Christian speaker and the author of Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions

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