Thursday, August 21, 2008

Practicing Frugality As A Family

One of the largest keys to our family's frugal living success is that we are all active participants in frugality. Eric and I have made it a point to train our children to have a frugal mindset about all things, and to retrain ourselves the same way.

Our youngest three have grown up in a frugal home, so it just comes naturally to them. They know that we shop off of our list and only the list when we are at the grocery store. They know that we don't buy things just because we want them. They also know that it is important to not be careless with our things and to creatively use whatever we have on hand instead of running to the store.

As an example, last week when we went to the grocery store, we bought vanilla ice cream to go in our root beer floats for Isabelle's requested birthday dinner. The day before, I had made a tray of brownies. Alex innocently asked me, "why are we buying ice cream when we already have brownies at home for dessert?" I took some convincing, but I think he finally understood that the ice cream was a special birthday treat for Isabelle. Even still, it was a proud moment for this mama! He gets it and he doesn't feel deprived or ambivalent to our frugality. It's just our life to him.

Isabelle is now at an age where she understands and respects our frugality. There are times when she is better at practicing it then Eric and I. We have taught her the importance of a dollar and the importance of not being wasteful with the resources and minds that God has given us. I think she is really beginning to take after me. I see her enjoying the thrill of the challenge as much as I do. She watches price tags all the time, and will point out a better deal to Eric or I if we have overlooked something. This has provided some wonderful learning opportunities for us to teach her about how the world works.

For Eric and myself, the transition to frugality has been a bit more difficult. Because our frugal journey began out of necessity, we sometimes have to remind ourselves that we are now living this way for a purpose. It is easy to be tempted to buy things that we can now afford when we could not afford them a few short years ago, even though we truly do not need these things. It really is a blessing for both of us that we are both committed to this lifestyle for the duration. We can encourage each other to stay true to our goals and gently nudge each other away from temptations.

Our goals for our family have been the largest motivator to keep us on track. We have very clear financial and simplicity-oriented goals that are always front and center in our minds. Open communication helps also. We discuss everything, and reevaluate situations when the need arises. We work together to find frugal alternatives every day, and we include the children in this process whenever possible. We are a family united in our frugality, and we all reap its benefits.

As a side note: We are hosting a giveaway of a dozen commercial-quality cloth rags (to help you make the switch from paper towels) over at Happy To Be At Home.

For more Frugal Friday, stop by Crystal's blog.

7 comments:

Niki 10:28 PM  

Great post Kate. It really is a journey and one that needs constant reminders on. I too find myself slipping back into our old ways and have to reign myself back in. I worked as a credit counsellor for several years and saw what young adults did with money. More than likely they were given everything as children and had no respect for money. We are doing our kids no favours by giving them everything and sheltering them from reality. It is best to start them young than them learn the hard way and lose everything.

Amy 10:40 PM  

That's awesome, Kate. I love your son's comment about the ice cream! It's so important to teach our children about the importance of being frugal. It's never too early to start those lessons.

Laura 10:49 PM  

Our kids seem to be learning to be frugal too. It is such a rewarding feeling to watch them practice frugality!

Kendra at Hand Prints On The Wall 12:16 AM  

I know it makes you proud when your kids really understand frugal living. My 4 yr. old daughter is always pointing out "Clearance" tags whenever we go shopping. It's so funny when you see them catching on. Great post!

Brooke 8:50 AM  

You must be so proud! sounds like you've done an excellent job in training them.

Sherry 10:47 AM  

What a great lesson you have taught them! I didn't teach mine early but they are learning it now. :D

Audra Krell 1:59 PM  

Nice post and great work on raising the kids with frugal, purposeful living. My boys would have answered the ice cream question with "to put on top of the brownies of course!" Thanks for sharing.

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