Nope! Money Does Not Grow on Trees!

by Judy Bierman

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It's been many years since I was a child, but I clearly remember hearing those words over and over again from my father as I was growing up. It was usually in response to one of my many sentences that began with, "I want..." Sometimes he would cater to my whims, but more often he would repeat the phrase, "Money doesn't grow on trees!"

After becoming an adult and a parent, I came to appreciate the value of money and the work involved in earning it. In recent years, it seems everything from gasoline to food has risen faster than the size of our paychecks. Is it still possible to actually save money for the average wage earner? Yes! Absolutely!

If you have a husband and children, saving might be extra hard for you, especially if they enjoy spending money. Set up a family "conference" where you can present some easy ways to cut down on expenses, as well as motivate your family to join you in the quest to save.

Do your homework so you can give your family a clear picture of the changes you want to make and then lay it out to them, step by step. To keep control of the family meeting, ask that comments and questions be brought up only after you have shared your ideas.

To gain their full attention and cooperation, first share how your plan will benefit them. Children and adults both tend to think "What's in it for me?" and are not interested in any plan that does not offer something to their liking. Before you hold this family meeting, you should have a good idea of how much money can be saved if everyone cooperates, thus allowing you to dangle the "carrot" of reward before them.

What would the reward be? It could be anything from a weekend excursion to a family fun park in the summer to the promise of a special purchase the whole family would enjoy but could not otherwise afford.

List six or seven ways that money can easily be saved, without any major lifestyle changes. Examples could include using major electric appliances only on off-peak hours (a savings of up to $100), restricting purchases of food and drinks from convenience stores (we all know they are much more expensive than the grocery stores), buying generic drugs when they are available, keeping the vehicles well tuned with properly inflated tires (a savings of up to $100), and the purchase and use of an entertainment book that is filled with money-saving coupons for dining out, visits to the movie theater, etc.

Even from this small list, we can likely see where we often waste money. If presented to the family in an upbeat manner, by the time your family meeting is over, you'll likely find your husband and kids getting caught up in the challenge of it all.

Soon after, before their excitement wanes, post a sheet pointing out all of the suggestions. Happy saving!

Judy Bierman lives in Wisconsin and has been writing part-time for the past 20 years. Her professional credits include feature articles in Dog Fancy and Evangelical Beacon as well as numerous short fillers and informational items in a variety of publications.

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