I grew up in a very frugal household.
My dad was a CPA, which meant he was always keenly aware of how and why we spent money.
And my mom was the one who taught me how to coupon back in the late 70’s/early 80’s waaaaaaay before couponing was cool. Yeah, I think she was some sort of a coupon pioneer.
When I was a kid, it was only on special occasions that we’d get to drink a soda.
And it was usually Shasta or Big K. Not Coca-Cola.
As a tween, I had one pair of Guess Jeans, while everyone else had five.
My first car was a 10-year-old, orange Toyota Tercel aptly named, “The Tomato Cruiser.”
And I had to pay for half of it! I know you’re jealous.
That’s me on the left with my BFF, Tammy.
Hmmm….remember when high-waisted shorts were super-cool and we rounded the edge of every picture for our scrapbooks?
But you know what?
I turned out OK.
I’m glad my parents didn’t give me everything that I “just had to have.”
As a result, I learned the true value of money.
I knew if I really wanted something, I had to save up for it.
And in the process of saving my OWN money, I had ownership of it. I protected it. And when the time came to spend it, I did so wisely.
Now that I’ve got kids of my own, I’m doing my best to show them how to live a frugal life, but at the same time not deprive them of all the great things that surround us.
Let’s be real. We live in the wealthiest country in the world. And that means the world is at our fingertips. From great restaurants and amusement parks to name-brand clothing and the latest high-tech electronic gadgets, our kids have everything they could ever need. And gimme a break, they’ve got TONS more than we ever had as children!
But how will they learn the value of saving more and spending less? How do we teach them to not get wrapped up in the desires of this world???
Well, we show them. We model it.
Of course, we all know we shouldn’t live above our means or put extravagant vacations on credit cards. Duh. But what does “living frugally” look like on a day-to-day basis?
Here are a few things I do to try and instill a frugal lifestyle in my boys:
Don’t Make Spontaneous Purchases – This may sound extreme, but even quickly grabbing a package of gum at the grocery checkout line communicates to your kids that you made an impromptu purchase. When pumping gas, I rarely walk into the station and come out carrying an overpriced soda or snack. I just don’t do it. We can wait until we get home to eat!
Visit the Clearance Racks – When you walk into a store, you should make a beeline for the back of the store to those clearance racks. Then after you’ve throughly looked through the sale items, work your way to the front of the store. This demonstrates that your first priority is looking for the best priced items, and not the latest fashion trend or must-have toy.
Use Coupons – Oh, you knew I was going to mention coupons! Whether it’s a Kids Eat Free coupon on your Chili’s app or a Groupon voucher for an oil change, let your kids see you using coupons. Even better, show them the receipt, so they can see the money that was saved. When they understand that you’re comfortable using coupons and rarely go anywhere without a coupon, it’ll become second nature for them to always look for opportunities to use a coupon. And guess what? Research shows that over 85% of American use coupons, so be loud and proud that you’re a part of this group!
Compare Prices – Let your kids listen in when you call the cable company to ask about current specials. Together, pull out the sales flyers from the Sunday paper and check to see which store has the best price on a new Xbox. At the grocery store, give your kids the task of finding the lowest price on their favorite cereal. When kids understand that most prices are negotiable and/or constantly changing, it helps them grasp the importance of not settling for the first “deal” that comes along.
Stock Up – And when you do find the “Best Buy” price on that box of cereal, teach kids the value in stocking up. Now, I don’t mean hoarding 300 boxes in your garage. But rather, buying enough boxes of cereal to last you until the next time it reaches it’s stock up price (which is usually every 4-6 weeks). When you have a back-up for everything you use on a regular basis, your shelves are never empty and that means you won’t have to make full-price purchases down the line.
These are just a few tips to help guide your kids into a way of thinking and living that puts saving money at the forefront of their minds.