Living a frugal lifestyle is difficult when you have children. Not only does it cost more to raise children but almost from the time they are able to sit up, they are bombarded with advertising telling them they need this or that. Teaching kids to be frugal in today’s world is easier than you might think. Here are a few things you can do.
Minimize the Media
The less time kids spend watching television and surfing the net, the less commercialism they will be exposed to. Commercials, television shows and even movies are designed to get their attention and make them want. Product placement in a show can be a better advertisement than a commercial aired during the show. The less “stuff” kids are told they need, the less they will ask for.
Teach Your Values
Some parents don’t like to discuss money issues with children. As their guardians and mentors, it is our responsibility to prepare them to survive in the world on their own. Managing their money and living within their means is a part of that. Teaching your children your values and why they are important to you can be the most important lesson you impart, financially or otherwise.
Practice What You Preach
The saying is old but no less true today than when it was first uttered. Children are sponges who absorb everything around them. If you expect them to turn out lights when they leave the room, set the right example. Don’t leave your television or stereo on while you head to the kitchen to fix a snack. Children will mirror the behavior they see demonstrated.
Being frugal doesn’t mean not toys, no outings, no fun. Teach your children how to enjoy themselves without material things. Go camping, fishing, hiking or bike riding. Plant a garden and care for it together. Pick up jigsaw puzzles from yard sales, thrift stores or dollar stores and work them together. Teach them to cook or bake. There are limitless possibilities for having fun together or alone.
A sense of self-worth can be gained through performing services for others. Each week have your kids participate in some activity that helps someone else. It could be mowing the lawn of an elderly neighbor, walking a dog for someone who is sick or injured. Maybe the activity could be sponsored through a church affiliation or scouting program. Visit a homeless or women’s shelter and help with whatever is needed. Seeing how their contributions can make a difference can create a sense of self-esteem and purpose that few other activities can.