Day 12: Raising Frugal Children


There is little debate surrounding the fact that one of the hardest challenges that we face in our adult life is raising children. Not only to feed them nutritious foods and clothe them (that’s hard enough), but raising them to be resepectable adults by developing good values, and fostering their interests and giftedness.

Besides safeguarding your child’s health and emotional development, there are many other things we as parents must focus on and instill as they grow up. In today’s society, the challenges parents face often come from factors outside of the home.

Frugal Living and Children

The families that follow the principles of frugal living realize the benefits of the lifestyle — it saves money, it’s often the better choice for the environment, and it allows us to focus on people rather than things. Day one of our Challenge we defined frugality to mean that we should embrace and enjoy what we have. Today, we can also say that frugality is just as much about spending less as it is about making smarter spending decisions.

The journey into frugal living is an incredible one…one not only important for us as adults, but for our children as well.

When one of you’re goals as a parent is to raise your child/children with the value of frugality, it’s can be very discouraging in today’s world. With such a focus on materialism, status, and owning things one can only wonder how these negative influences effect a young child’s mind and heart.

Marketing companies and advertising agencies have made a concerted effort to target children. For example, this article clearly states that food and beverage companies spend nearly $2 billion dollars a year on marketing to children. Billboards, Internet ads, and commercials promoting toys, clothing, food, and a variety of other products have been designed to elevate materialism –teaching children to covet without regard to the financial implications.

Tips to Consider When Raising Frugal Children

  1. Remember…they’re watching you. Lead by example. As parents we hear this all the time, probably because it’s true. There is nothing that can send a more concrete message to children than your own example. Model a frugal lifestyle and teach them as you go. Let them learn from your mistakes and rejoice together in victories.
  2. Teach your children all aspects of money management. Money management is not an innate skill! It must be taught. Children need to understand that money doesn’t grow on trees. They must learn the value of money and respect the hard work necessary to earn it. Reducing the impulse buys and expecting our children to earn and save for items is a gift that doesn’t have a price tag. 
  3. Turn off the TV, computer, and radio. Even our best teachings will be underminded if our children are constantly attacked by the finest marketing strategies designed to hit them where they are. If we limit their exposure to media, children are less prone to crave the hippest, new gadget because they might not even know it exists.
  4. Set limits on gadgets and electronic game usage. Frugal children must be able to find joy and contentment in simple activities — i.e. playing outside, board/card games, homemade puppet shows, learning to cook…the list could go on.
  5. Have lots of fun together. Frugal living doesn’t mean boring, or that you have to deprive yourself. By making it as fun as possible, we model for our children exactly why we value this type of lifestyle. As a family, participate in activities that everyone will enjoy. We love to go to the park, hike, play hide and seek, bake cookies, camp — imagine it and you can do it.
  6. Spend time with like-minded others. I won’t deny that it is difficult to live frugally. Although fiscal responsibility is gaining in popularity (Is that strange to say?), it’s still not mainstream to live frugally. It’s easier for adults, more so than children, to manage the social implications of not having the brightest and the best-est. Surrounding ourselves with other like-minded families, gives children a community of supportive individuals — peers who understand where they’re coming from and “won’t look at them weird” because they don’t have this or that.  

Now It’s Your Turn

Daily Goal:
Raising frugal children can be a counter-cultural experience, but the rewards are great! List out and share with us the benefits that you’ve seen evidenced in your children. What are your tips for raising children to value frugality?

Download: The 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge Daily Goal Sheet

Connect With The Community: Take a few minutes and head over to the forum. Share your “Frugal Living Daily Goal“, encourage, and support one another.

Subscribe: Be sure not to miss a day of the Challenge! Click this link to receive the 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge by email.

 This post is shared here: New Nostalgia, Simple Lives, Your Green Resource



  1. My teenage son has taken frugality to a new level in our household. He will only buy used electronics and games…and has to think very carefully about those purchases before he makes them. He doesn’t want new clothes gadgets. I’m pretty proud of him for insisting on thinking of the environment and human rights before his own wants and needs.

    By the way…we homeschool and that has had a major effect on his attitude. Now that he is taking college classes he is continuing his frugal ways. 🙂

  2. I’ve found even the newspaper encourages children to want to spend irresponsibly. My kids pour over the ads and say “I’ve gotta have it!” It’s enough to make me rethink getting the paper at all!

  3. It’s simple: Don’t buy a ton of toys/gadgets/whatever for your kids. Allow them to be creative. I’m thankful that my parents didn’t buy us tons of junk, but did buy us paints, drawing pads, colored pencils, etc. They also made us play outside as often as we could. They limited television time and what we watched. When we wanted something and we didn’t have the money to buy it, we saved our money to buy it.

    This extends to other family members as well. My godfather NEVER bought me a single toy. When I was a child, he gave me coins that had meaning (my birth year, for example), stones, Christmas ornaments, etc. When I was in elementary school, he gave me a smoky topaz that I recently had set into a ring setting. It means more to me that my uncle gave me the stone and that my friend made the simple setting than any diamond ring could ever mean.

  4. My 6 yr. old had certain chores he does b/c he lives here (like cleaning up his toys.) Certain other things he earns money for. Not a lump at the end of the week, but a 25 cent job here & there (like helping me with the dishes & folding clothes.)

    The money he earns is divided three ways: Spend, save & donate. Once a month, we take his earnings to the dollar store for him to spend, put the savings in the bank, and decide where to donate something.

    If we’re out and he wants something, the question is “Did you bring your money? Nope? Too bad.” If it’s something large (and near we add it to his wish list. Close to the day, he has to pick the three things he wants most from his wish list. They always surprise me! This holiday it was the pottery wheel and K’nex (he WANTED all the videos/games, but chose the active toys as his most wanted.)

  5. “Teach your kids about money, or they’ll grow up and live in your basement.” -Dave Ramsey

    Oh, and I am convinced that batterized toys are from the devil. Ahem.

  6. gogardengirl says:

    My children are grown, but they still talk about how everyone else they knew growing up had cable TV. We had a few videos and lots of books, art and building supplies. As adults they have thanked us for for not giving in to their pleas for TV,. instead they practiced their musical instruments, took care of the animals, gardened with mom, played outside, joined sports teams, read books, participated in volunteer activities, created and used their imaginations. No video games, no computers, life was simple and good.

    When they wanted to go to the movies with friends on the weekend, they worked doing piece work for our family business, babysat or mowed lawns to pay their way.

    Now they are young single women who have many interests and skills, own their own homes and understand about hard work. They have made mistakes along the way–I’m not saying we did it all right, but modeling and teaching in their growing years is so important.

  7. We canceled our cable over the summer, so I guess it was about 6 months ago. The difference in my children is amazing. This is what made me notice this change: while we were in Ohio for Thanksgiving visiting family, we stayed in a hotel…WITH CABLE! I’m not going to lie, I was sort of excited, and so were the kids. The first day we were there all I heard was “oh oh oh, I WANT THAT” and “Oh Mommy, look how cool that is! I need one!”. I hadn’t heard my children say these things in so long that I definitely noticed. I never noticed before because I was so used to it! On top of that, I took them with me to the store to pick out a couple Christmas gifts (I think it’s important for them to pick gifts for others themselves) and all I heard was “Wow, look at that thing!” I realized they don’t even know these things exist, and I’d like to keep it that way! Needless to say they quickly got over it because Christmas was right around the corner, and I haven’t heard about those toys since. But, it just goes to show what an impact consumerism and advertising has on our children! It’s crazy! They find happiness in the simple things, homemade things made out of cardboard or other re-purposed items.

  8. I have always encouraged my eldest (23) and now my second child (5) to make gifts instead of purchasing them. The eldest is quite talented and creative, for Christmas we all received beautiful mugs that she had painted by hand.

    With the youngest, we encourage recycling and re-purposing, as well as things such as showers instead of baths (less water) and tell her why it is important. We have been slowly moving towards a ‘zero-waste’ household, which I usually blog about on my gardening and self-sufficiency website, The Deadly Nightshade. Our little one helps us out by bringing out leftovers and scraps to the chickens and our other pets, or collecting eggs, or using all of the shredded junk mail to line our hen’s egg boxes.

    She helps me plot out our driving routes so that we use less gas and get all of our errands done in one fell swoop.

    There’s more I’m sure, but I can’t remember any more right now!

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