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 respectable 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?