Meeting financial goals and saving money each month is easier when the whole family is involved. Whether both parents work outside the home or one parent stays home to teach and care for the children, it is much easier if it is a team effort.
Kids can bring a different perspective, enthusiasm, and energy to the family’s frugal living efforts.
Try these tactics to encourage your kids to reduce expenses and in turn save your family some serious cash:
- Save electricity – Practice energy efficiency with the kids by having them turn lights, TV’s, and other electronics off when they leave a room or leave the house.
- Save water – Show them ways to conserve water like turning the water off while they are brushing their teeth, limiting shower time, and recycling rainwater for water plants.
- Clip coupons – Clipping coupons and reading the sale papers could earn you huge savings on big-ticket items.
- Buy generic – Have the children help. Look for budget brands like Great Value, Kroger, and other store-based brands compared to name-brands.
- Find alternates – It’s not easy telling the kids that they can’t have their favorite snacks, so find what they like in the cheaper alternatives.
- Go thrifting – Go bargain shopping at Goodwill, army surplus stores and yard sales. The kids will find treasures to keep forever and you’ll save big on clothes and accessories.
- Play games – Make games of the chores—it will save time and money. Let them know you appreciate their hard work. Instead, sing songs about drying the dishes and putting things in their place and the kids will never know they’re actually contributing.
- Earn it – As kids, most people get told to stop complaining and deal with it. Don’t have enough money for the latest gadget? Go earn some money for it: mow lawns, wash cars, or get a real job if you’re old enough.
- Bag it – Maybe you always wanted to buy lunch at school instead of brown-bagging it, but mom always said no. That’s because she knew that $2-3 per day would rapidly become $40-60 per month, and that’s a pretty good chunk of cash just for school lunch.
- Count the cost – Practice math and finance at the same time – ask questions like, “If we have $10 and pop-tarts cost $3 a box, how many boxes can we buy?”
- Check the receipt – Go over receipts with your children while writing your shopping list. Show them the prices for last time and compare them with this week’s items. Set a budget and have them keep track of how much is being spent.
- Make them pay – If you generally indulge your child’s desires for something, instead give them a small amount of money, along with the option of saving it for next time, perhaps even with interest. For example, “I know you want to buy everything, but these things cost money, so I’m going to give you $3. But, if you wait, next time we come to the store I’ll give you $7: $3 from this trip, $3 for the next trip, and $1 for waiting.
- Budget together – Depending on your family situation, consider including them in the weekly budgeting process, introducing them to thinking not just about money now, but also money in the future.
- Track income – Turn the fridge into a bank by posting each child’s income through chores and savings. Note deposits and withdrawals as well, and watch as the numbers grow and shrink.
- Tell the truth – In times of financial struggle, make sure the children realize that the family will always be together and that the hard times will pass. Keep them optimistic; their optimism can help encourage you in your low moments as well. But do not lie to your child. Phrasing things and limiting information given to them is fine, but lying can impact your child.
- Learn a lesson – If your financial situation is a result of an error of some sort on your part, tell your child about it and what you learnt from it. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes before your children—they need to know that no one is infallible, not even their parents who they might see as perfect.
- Give allowances – More often than not, allowances are determined by chores that children do around the house. However, even experts recommend not connecting money to chores. Kids should be expected to do chores because they are part of a family. Kids should not expect to be paid for everything they do.
If you allow your children to help reduce expenses, earn income, and participate in financial decisions, they will become more financially responsible adults.