Talking Frugal and Saving With Your Kids

Money Saving Talking About Saving Money and Living More Frugal with your Kids

With the holidays coming, I’m sure most of us are trying to cut back on everyday spending so we can have a nice Christmas with our kids and families. So I thought it would be neat to share a story with everyone from when my wife and I first decided to squeeze the budget a little…..

Would love to hear your stories or thoughts as well!

Please comment here or join our discussion in the Frugal Living Community on BlogFrog!

So awhile back my wife and I had decided to start being more frugal, using coupons and cutting back on wasteful spending. Our goal was, and still is to pay off student loan and credit card debt quicker. So like any responsible parents we sat down our four children and explained to them that we were going to start being more frugal and saving money. We explained how they could do their part by helping with turning off lights when not in use, helping spot coupons, and not being wasteful.

A couple months later everything was cruising along just as we hoped. Our electric bill was smaller, our grocery budget saw a HUGE drop, and the kids were doing everything they could to help. They were bringing coupons home from school. They were reminding us to bring the reusable bags when we went shopping and telling us everything they could think of to help save money.

What I didn’t realize is how far they would go or what they were willing to give up for their parents. This is where I learned a very important lesson in communicating  money matters with my children.

See, what I forgot to explain to my children was even though we were using coupons and trying not to be wasteful that we were not broke and did not need to go without. What happened to enlighten me to this fact you ask? Well, two different incidents almost at the same time. First, I overheard my 9 year old daughter who loves to read books more than anything talking to a good friend of ours who the children call “Uncle Mike”. They were talking about what books she had read lately and such when all of a sudden I heard her ask “Uncle Mike” if he would send her some money to buy some books because we were saving money and couldn’t afford it. After I picked myself up of the floor and explained to my good friend that we were indeed not broke my wife came to me with incident #2. It seems my oldest daughter, who was 14 the time ,and my wife were talking. The topic of conversation was the homecoming dance at her school that was taking place on that Friday (the next day). When my wife asked her why she wasn’t going or hadn’t brought it up earlier my daughter said she didn’t want us to have to spend the money for a new dress or the $25 admission ticket.

As you can imagine my wife and I saw our mistake very quickly and called a family meeting. We sat the children down and explained to them in more detail why we were saving and that by no means were we broke. We told them that what we wanted to do was still buy the same things that we always have for them but make sure we were being smarter with our purchases. With the dress for example, we explained by saving that didn’t mean not buying a dress and doing without, it meant we would look for a dress she liked that was on sale or clearance or  one in which we had a coupon.

Since these incidents, we have learned a few other tricks. The most effective one, I will share. Whether we are buying basketball shoes, school clothes, supplies, or a special dinner out, we always give the kids “a budget” and let them, with guidance, get the most for their money. I will tell you, when you give kids a budget and they look at that money as theirs opposed to yours, they will spend more wisely.  For example, my eldest needed new jeans. We gave her a $50 budget and told her the jeans she bought had to last her because she would not get any more money for jeans until spring. Before she and my wife left for the shopping trip,  she was on Coupon Dad printing coupons to her favorite retailers. Destiny has become a very frugal and smart shopper because she went to a store that had a BOGO on their jeans and used a coupon! So she bought 3 pairs of jeans and  stayed under budget with $9 to spare (which makes Dad happy…LOL) making each pair around $14 for high quality, name brand jeans. Not to shabby!

Now it is a contest within our family to see who can save the most money. My wife and I feel the frugal living and saving money talks we have with our children are very important because now our children don’t have to learn this lesson the hard way!

Low Cost Family Entertainment Ideas

apples_to_applesDoing things together as a family does not have to cost a lot of money to be fun and enjoyable.  Below are a few of the things my family does to have some fun while not breaking the bank.

1) There’s not much better than the classic entertainment of playing board games as a family. Our family favorites are Apples to Apples, Scrabble and Uno.

* Click here to get printable coupons from Hasbro ($10 off Monopoly Electonic banking edition or the Scrabble diamond edition, $5.oo off Pitureka)

2) One of our favorites is to pop some popcorn and sit down as a family for a movie night.

* Check out movies at your local library for free or get movies from Redbox ($1.00 a night for a movie). Here is a code you can use at checkout for a free one night rental at Redbox (one time use only) – DVDONME

* For the popcorn buy kernels and pop it yourself instead of the microwave variety. All you need is a common stock pot with a lid, some oil and salt to taste. Also try flavored popcorn salt like Kernel Season’s for an extra zip. Click here for a review and giveaway at Nicole’s Nickels on Kernel Season’s.

3)  Along the same lines but today’s version….have Guitar Hero tournaments or bowling competitions on the Wii.

*If you don’t have one I think the Wii is the best system out there for families and one of the cheaper ones. Many games you can play as a family and you can’t just sit on the couch, you have to get up and be involved in the game causing great family interaction.

4) Make Homemade Playdough with the kids. What’s really cool is this recipe below is non-toxic and edible, but not recommended to  be consumed in larger quantities.

3 cups flour
1.5 cups salt
6 tsp cream of tarter
3 tbsp oil
3 cups water
various colors of food coloring

1. Dissolve salt in the water.
2. Pour all ingredients into a large pot.     3. Stir constantly over medium heat until a ball forms by pulling away from the sides.    4. Knead the dough mixture until the texture matches playdough (1-2 minutes). While kneading add food coloring. Store in plastic container.  Should last for at least 3 months.

5) Have kids go on “nature walk” and take photos of things they find along the way.

This has actually been a blast for our family. We use our old digital camera and let the kids snap away. For the “nature walk” you can do this in your back yard, at the playground or park, or anywhere safe for the children to wander a little while you supervise close by. The pictures you will get will be amazing and precious!

These are a few of my families favorites, what are yours? Would love for everyone to share their thoughts and ideas!

Free Photos from Olan Mills!

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Olan Mills is offering a free photo package for your baby of 3 months or younger.

The package includes: 1 – 8×10, 2 – 5×7’s and 8 wallets!

Print the coupon here and take it in to your local Olan Mills Photography Studio.

You can click here to find a location near you!

Looks like first pose only. Read coupon for more details.


Coupon Dad – The Introduction

Welcome to Coupon Dad Exposed – the blog!

I figured for the first post I would tell everyone a little about myself and my family.

Since January of this year (2009) I have been known in the blogging world  as Coupon Dad, but I do sometimes respond to the name Zack as well!  I am married to a wonderful woman and we have 4 beautiful children and 3 dogs (and if my oldest gets her way….soon 1 cat). Here’s the breakdown:

Wife – Sandy

14 year old – Destiny

10 year old – Ethan

9 year old – Amber

7 year old – Anah

Dogs are Daisy, Maggie and LG (little girl). Daisy and Maggie are Australian Terriers and LG is a Pomeranian and Australian Terrier mix (can you guess what the neighbor’s dog is?)

For those of you keeping count, yes my son and I are definitely outnumbered. So I think for the cat I’ll put my foot down………..and then realize how pointless that was…… and end up with a cat of the female variety as well. But I’m not complaining……my son might though. Even though I’m sure he has enjoyed always having his own room!