Ways to Help Your Child Understand a More Frugal Lifestyle

It’s important to teach your children the values that you hope will shape their adult characters, a practice that includes the definition of money and what it means to us. It’s only natural for children to place importance on material possessions when they are young. They are influenced by their peer group, the advertisements they see on television, and especially you, their parent.

Before you can begin teaching them the importance of a frugal lifestyle, you have to make sure they understand the concept of money in the first place. Children do not understand, nor should they have to, all the complicated details of your paycheck and what portions go where. But you can explain to them the difference between having to pay for something and choosing to pay for something, and the consequences that each can have on the entire family.

The best way to help your children understand the importance of being frugal is to show them. Call a family meeting and explain to your children that there are going to be some changes around the home in order to save money. This doesn’t mean that certain activities have to be eliminated entirely- just done differently.

The first step is entertainment. Instead of taking the family to see a movie, stay in and watch a movie from your own collection of DVD and VHS cassettes. Pop some popcorn the old fashioned way (yes, on the stove – not the microwaveable bag) and settle in on the couch for an evening of home theatre. Also, try to only go out to eat for special occasions, such as good grades on report cards or to celebrate a promotion at work.

Next comes extracurricular activities. So many children are overextended these days, with soccer teams, ballet lessons, piano recitals and much more. Instead of spending your afternoons driving from one lesson to the next, let each child pick one activity each season. You’ll save money on gas, uniforms, and supplies, and more importantly, get to spend more time with your family.

Lastly, limit shopping for clothing strictly to when it is needed. Make a new rule that for every new piece of clothing that is purchased, each member of the family must give away something in their closet that no longer fits or they no longer wear to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. You’ll be teaching your kids the value of spending money wisely, but also the importance of helping those less fortunate. When it comes time to purchase items at retail stores, try your best to only shop the clearance racks or use coupons for every purchase.

Yes, this is very similar to the whole “money doesn’t grow on trees” talk that your parents gave you when you were young. In the end, it really does come full circle.

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