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!