- How can we teach our children to be frugal money managers? Is it even important to do that?
Absolutely, it is important! In fact, I’d go so far as to say that training kids how to handle money is one of the best gifts you can give them. If you can teach your children to love the Lord, build good character, work hard and handle money well, the rest is just gravy. The great thing is that it’s never too late to start.
As with many aspects of parenting, our greatest impact is most often the example we set. That means you must not only be a good money manager yourself, but that you must talk with your children about why you make the choices and sacrifices that you do. Here are a few of my top tips.
- When talking about money, I suggest that you use “positive” language. Rather than saying, “we can’t afford it”, explain that “we are choosing to stay out of debt/save for $XXX”. It’s important to show that you are in control of money rather than playing the part of victim.
- Let your children help you with couponing and show them how much you save. Make it even more concrete and meaningful by saying, “Because we saved $XXX on groceries we can afford to . . .” go to the movies, put that money toward vacation, or add this to the car fund.
- Demonstrate ways to stretch your dollars by buying used (thrift stores or Craigslist), frequenting yard sales, bartering, couponing, etc. The point is to talk about what you do and why. When spending their own money, my kids often ask to check out the thrift store first. They may not find what they want, in which case, they’re fine with purchasing new. But why spend extra money unnecessarily?
- Weigh your options out loud. Consider a family vote. Rather than just spending without giving it much thought, try this approach. “We were considering going to the movies, but that will cost $50 for all of us. Would you rather rent a movie, make popcorn and put $40 toward vacation.” If they agree, be sure and make a large visual of some sort (a graph or thermometer) showing how much you’ve saved to date.
- Brainstorm alternatives with your kids. If you’d like to go on a family ski trip, talk about how it could be made more affordable. Perhaps your area offers a “two-fer Tuesday”. You might be able to borrow equipment from a friend, or perhaps the slopes offer a discount for afternoon arrivals.
As you talk with your children and exemplify financial responsibility, making wise financial decisions will become a natural part of their life.
- What are your very favorite tips for moms who want to know some easy ways to be frugal?
Wow! This might surprise you, but that’s a tough one. I say that because each of us is so different. I think frugality sometimes gets a bad rap because we view it as having to give up and sacrifice everything we love. However, that’s not my view. I view frugality as becoming financially aware and responsible. It doesn’t mean not spending on luxuries. It means determining what is important to me and letting go of those things that are less important, so that I can have what I truly enjoy.
So many people spend unthinkingly and out of habit, without really evaluating their choices. For example, I could suggest the typical, “Cut out two mocha’s a week and you’ll save $XX.” That advice might be great for many, but what about the person that truly loves her daily mocha? She’d much rather drop her monthly gym membership and take up bicycling if she could still have her daily mocha, and that’s great!
Just as with physical dieting, where success is most often determined by tracking what you eat, financial dieting requires that you keep a strict spending log. Only when you know what you’re spending your money on, can you evaluate your budget. Even if you think you know, I bet you’ll be surprised at some of your findings. Once you know where your money is going, determine what is and is not important to you. Knowing where you’ve been and where you want to be, will put you on the right path. Your personality and passions will determine how you get there.
I get a kick out of saving a ton on groceries and the organization and math skills required come easily to me. Therefore, that’s an easy way for me to save, considerably. For someone else, that would be akin to torture. Perhaps that person would love to spend hours cultivating, canning and freezing her own produce, something I view as much more work than pleasure. That’s why I say there is no right answer. I think the key is in analyzing, understanding and making your own plan. Be a scrooge in areas that don’t really matter to you and feel free to spend on the luxuries you truly enjoy. Likewise, invest your time and energy in saving or making money in the ways that come most easily and naturally to you.
Thanks Molly! I appreciate your thoughtful answers. I can't wait to read your articles in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine this year!
Now, I told you I had two items to give away as part of this entry. Well, here you go!
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