Inexpensively is more than 10 years old. So, while I have teens and tweens now, I’ve been writing about frugal living since my kids were little. In fact, I had a few less kids when I started writing around here. It first began as an effort to lower our budget on groceries, diapers, and school supplies.
These days, our grocery budget is even higher and the school supplies include things like AP courses and tablets, but at least the diaper years are behind us. Each life stage brings a new budget challenge to our family, and we’re now approaching the college years. We are in the midst of teaching financial responsibility as our older kids approach adulthood.
That’s a tall order.
How do you set kids on the right path to financial freedom? When do you pull back and let them make their own mistakes? Will the frugal lifestyle they’ve grown up in translate to smarter decisions with their own finances? I honestly I have no idea, but I certainly hope it will.
We talk a lot about money around here. I’ve always felt like it was important for kids to understand where things come from. They help with the groceries and weekly meal plans. They take part in budgeting back to school clothes. And our recent allowance program has really hammered home the challenges of spending and saving.
I want my kids to grow up understanding the value of money. That food has to be paid for. That your home and clothes and school aren’t simply provided for you — we work for that. I want them to understand that extras cost, well, extra. I also really want them to understand there’s always a deal. The kids who grew up here seem to get it.
The oldest always has money around, even when it’s been months since her last babysitting job. The tween carefully considers every purchase and tries to find the best deal possible. The youngest won’t spend any money ever unless she’s sure to get at least half back in change.
The challenge is in teaching the kids who came to us later. When our son first arrived, we instituted at allowance program to help teach the kids better spending habits. He blew through his money rather quickly, often buying things he would add to the donation like a few weeks later.
We have since taken a little more control of the situation. I hold onto the money and review purchases with each kid before they are allowed to spend it. The final decisions are still theirs, but at least having to ask or their money forces a conversation and thought.
And that’s really all anyone needs to make good, frugal decisions — just take a minute to step back, consider the long term ramifications, and decide if each purchase makes sense before forking over your hard-earned money. Do you have a decision-making process or go-to person to act as a barrier for your reckless decisions?