Enlisting your kids in the fight to save money

Making Frugality a Family Affair

by Nancy Twigg

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

Shopping at the mall, dinners at McDonald's, visit to the local arcade. None of these expenditures seems very large by itself, but put them all together and the dollars add up fast. Before you know it, the month is gone, and so is all the money you hoped to squirrel away.

Does this sound familiar? If living and spending more frugally is on your list of things to do, the time to enlist the support of your kids is now. Without their help, you'll soon find your efforts to economize undermined by your children's desire to consume.

Frugality works best when it is a team effort among all family members. By teaching your kids about careful spending now, you help them to learn money-management and decision-making skills that will follow them into their adult years. Here are some ideas for making frugality a family affair.

Discuss financial goals with the children. Maybe your family's income was drastically cut when you or your spouse became a stay-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.

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 money-saving options.

Find low-cost alternatives. When the kids understand why expenses must be cut, get their ideas for 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 $15 or more for pizza delivery.

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.

Think of family projects to earn extra money. Cutting back doesn't have to mean cutting out all the fun. If the family wants to go to Disney World this summer, discuss projects the family can do together to earn money for the trip. Is there a neighbor who needs someone to cut grass or weed flowerbeds? The vacation will be even more fun for the kids if they know they did their part in helping to earn the money for it.

Reviewed September 2017

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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