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Teaching Your Kids About Frugal Living

Living a frugal lifestyle is much easier if you actively teach your children to be frugal too. Teaching them about frugal living will also help them when they are older. This is a guide about teaching your kids about frugal living.
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By 24 found this helpful
February 18, 2015

My husband and I are raising 10 kids on about $25000 a year, yes 10! 5 are ours by birth and 5 are now adopted nieces and nephews that we took in due to poor parenting by a sibling. They are all our kids now and we are thankful we have each and every one.

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We have always lived inexpensively even before we had any children. We were able to purchase a small farm with an old farm house on it many years ago and fixed it up ourselves over time. Our furnishing are simple but nice. We bought our antique bedroom set from a local thrift shop many years ago on a layaway plan; $25 a week. The farm is share cropped and that check each fall pays for the home insurance, two tanks of propane, fall meat purchases, and the taxes. We have a garden and I can/freeze a lot.

When we had our third child, I stopped working. Childcare and the extra medical expenses from one of them always seeming to be ill out weighed me continuing to work. It amazed me at how much more healthy they were once I stopped working outside the home. Let me add this, we receive no government assistance with the exception of medical cards on our adopted children as three of them have special needs. We homeschool.

We shop Goodwill and local thrift shops, especially on 99 cent clothing days and "stuff a bag sales". We have a deep freeze and, each fall, the boys each hunt and we process three deer ourselves to supplement our meat supplies. I buy a side of beef each fall as well and we cook from scratch. We have chickens for eggs and, well, chicken. Our budget is pretty much like this:

  • House Payment: $750 house payment. That will be paid off in 3 more years.

  • Electric: $250 - $300

  • Phone: $125 phone - My husband and myself each have a Straight Talk phone at $45 a month and we have one Trac phone the older kids share when they are away from home for emergencies. They borrow my phone to make other calls when at home. Teenagers can survive and do quite well without being constantly on a phone.

  • Internet: $45 - This is used a lot for homeschooling and entertainment. We were blessed when my husband's workplace upgraded computers and purchased two laptops for $25 each. They gave us three desk tops just to be rid of them! Major Blessing!

  • Groceries (food only): $75 a week - We don't buy soda and premade snacks, mostly staples: sugar, flour, bread, milk, cheese, fresh veggies. We shop at Aldi's or Save A Lot and the farmer's markets in summer for what we don't grow. Soups and stews are a big part of our diet. Casseroles and things like spaghetti, chili, and pasta bakes are favorites and use up leftovers.

  • Household Supplies: $75-100 a month - We make our own laundry soap and have found homemade cleaner recipes online that save a ton of money. We have a clothes line.

  • Car insurance: $100 a month for three older cars - My van, husband's small truck, and an old station wagon that the older kids share when they need to. Gasoline is about $100 a month. When prices are up, we stay put.

  • No cable - one TV and a VHS/DVD player. The smaller kids love Veggie Tales and Thomas the Train. We have a large collection of VHS that we have either been given or have gotten for 50 cents to a dollar at Goodwill. The older kids have their faves too. You can check out movies for free at the library. We also have a nice library at home we have collected over the years from sales and gifts. Board games from CandyLand to Monopoly and puzzles.

The older kids do odd jobs for their own spending money and are a tremendous help at home. We are active in our church and Upwards ball and cheer for the kids.

Have we ever needed a little extra help? Yes. our church has helped us with clothing and a "pantry pounding", especially when we first got our youngest children, who basically had nothing.

Have we been able to give back? Yes. We volunteer monthly at least, share extra produce, pass on outgrown and gently used things we no longer need to others we know or to church closet for those who need things, fire victims etc., take food baskets of homemade dishes to a couple of elderly ladies regularly.

Are our kids depressed, embarrassed, lacking (insert other negative things here)? No. They are happy, well rounded, outgoing kids. They have friends who have much more than they do in "stuff" who have told them, "Wow, I wish we could do _______" or "I wish my (mom, dad, brother, sister) and I were that close." or similar statements. We try to save $100 a month and have a emergency fund of about $4000 dollars (we had this established long ago and an emergency is narrowly defined).

Our savings is used for Christmas (which I usually manage for less than $300 a year, yes for everyone!) and a summer camping trip or two to state parks.

We have a monthly shopping trip for myself and the older girls where we each have about $20 (that would be $60 total) where we Goodwill and garage sale shop and see how much we can get for how little for extra things for our family. It may be "new" games, books, or puzzles or toys for the smallest ones, clothes, accessories, or a little something for our home. We make a game of it.

My husband and the boys are able to get scrap lumber from building sites-due to a connection with a church member who is a contractor. They have build birdhouses, doll furniture, wooden toys etc from scraps. We sew, crochet, knit, and quilt. We have, in the past, set up a roadside craft sale and made almost $1000 one weekend for a special family project, adding another bathroom!

Living the way we do is a choice. We choose to be self reliant. I think we are teaching our children well. I have spoken with the older ones as time and privacy have allowed and asked them "if you could change one thing . . . " They have all said "Nothing! Not one thing, except maybe another bathroom." or wishing better health for our three special little ones. They have all expressed a desire to live their adult lives in a very similar fashion. I think we are doing well, living large in the important things!

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By 11 found this helpful
January 1, 2012

I love ThriftyFun. It IS fun! I was learning to be frugal before frugal was even a word! I don't even remember hearing the word "thrifty." We just did it! My dad grew up in the depression so we heard a lot of those stories.

I can get real creative using leftovers. When you make a meal, stuff usually goes together pretty good. I take the leftovers and make soup. I just add more vegetables, tomato or mushroom soup (homemade!) and whatever else suits my fancy. I may serve it with a grilled cheese, egg or peanut butter sandwich. Homemade soup is much cheaper than the canned stuff.

I also make my own hot chocolate mix using really good for you deep chocolate! You can control what goes into it. I leave out the sugar creamer and add my choice to each serving, like stevia, sucanat and real cream or evaporated milk.

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My daughter refreshed my memory about making bone soup. Buy a whole chicken, roast it for the flavor for one meal. Keep the bones, skin and trimmings. Put them all into a pot of water along with 1/4 cup vinegar (to extract the calcium from the bones), and an onion, some carrots and celery then simmer in a crockpot for maybe 24 hours! You can discard the veggies then, or if you're like me, you could figure out some way to use them. Some people add them to the compost pile.

You'd be surprised how much more meat you can get off the bones. Anyway, after you're done with your really good chicken stock, you're ready to make some more really good soup. It smells up your house real good! Have fun, y'all! God bless you real good!

By Ginny from Charles City, IA

Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml

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By 16 found this helpful
May 6, 2015

We grew up in a country area, at least 15 miles from a small town. We were taught how to work hard at all things. There was no down time as some make sure they get today. Each season had its work; some were to be fast and others slow and regular.

When we reached the age of seven, we were taken to be taught how things were done and shown how to do small parts of the work. Each year, we had more work added. By the time we came of age at 13, we could do most things in the home and yard as well as the money making areas. Some of the dangerous things were taught at 15 years old. Trading and work was half of our goods and supplies for the year. If people did not work hard, they did not have much.

The first thing we learnt was cooking and then baking. This was important because if we had what was needed to make foods we were not to waste. We had everything labeled but not with the fancy labeller you buy today. Some foods were put away for Christmas and other celebrations. There was a lot to remember. We did not go to the grocer to buy a smoked salmon or ham, we traded or made it ourselves. Life was simplified but cost more. These lessons were not easy to teach the next generations.

Part of cooking was cleanliness and each step was for a reason. That brings us to keeping all things clean and organized as the second area of importance to teach. Third was shopping. We did not go out every day or week. No, we went once a month, buying in bulk and sharing some with another part of the family. We had the things needed for this; a freezer and large pantry, a prep area, with the right bags, boxes and canisters.

The fourth area is furnishing the home. Not all things were new; our bed was new but the chest of drawers were second hand, our kitchen had half new. The things that could not be sanitized were bought new. Thrift stores and flea markets were a must. We also had a co-op for wool. It was a nice time to see all the women come together to stretch wool, wash it and card it. We divided it up and then at home, we dyed it then shinned it to the thickness we could work with. First we learn these things, then knitting came next. I broke so many strands because I held on to it as if it could still run like the sheep.

Fifth was sewing. We all, male and female, learnt to sew. Clothing lasted longer if you mend them. We would go to a thrift store to buy large or extra large clothing. These would be taken apart carefully and made into smaller clothing for the young. All these things can be taught and used today in different ways. An electronic area is important these days. We bought a surge protector plug for recharging phones tablets and toys. This helps so no one loses the cords and it is safe.

We had to camp to take vacations so our big family shared the trailer and tents, coolers, camp stoves and pots. As we taught the children how to do all these things and show them how the quality of life was better to work on all things. Work is free in the family and can be a great gift.

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By 14 found this helpful
December 5, 2011

Being frugal has a long history for me and I owe it all to my Mother and Grandmother for setting the ground work. My Mother became a single mother of three young children when my father left and never paid support.

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By 5 found this helpful
August 28, 2007

My name is Jen. I just turned 37 on 8/6/07. We have been fated to a frugal life and are coming to love it. I have a home with my husband of 8 years, and our 4 girls, Holly, Hailey, Hannah and Harley.

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By 2 found this helpful
September 7, 2016

I grew up in a family of four and my mom was on a fixed income. I thank her for making me understand how important it is to know that not being able to buy all the name brand clothes because, even though we got those things, we were still not happy.

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By 5 found this helpful
February 17, 2010

I grew up on a farm in the 40's and 50's. We were a family of 6; mom, dad, three brothers and me. Although we were poor, we never went hungry due to the fact that my mother grew and preserved her own vegetables and fruits and we had our own chickens and beef.

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By 4 found this helpful
January 5, 2012

Back in 1985, my father claimed that at the head of every giant corporation, in the hand of every international banker, in the stomach of every commodity pit trader lives the spirit of an old miser.

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By 6 found this helpful
November 7, 2011

My author father liked to use examples from third-world countries to teach personal money management. He pointed out that the savings could grow enough to buy a boat for fishing and traveling, or become an investment in a local business.

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By 4 found this helpful
August 10, 2006

My father was my example when it came to being frugal. He lived through the "dirty thirties" and the depression had a life long effect on his frugality.

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By 7 found this helpful
October 22, 2012

I grew up with piles of coupons and paper scattered all around the house. I know what it's like to wake up at 8am to go get newspapers, just to find out that they've all been taken by fellow couponers in the area.

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By 4 found this helpful
January 30, 2013

We lived in the countryside and we had some hard times, just like many others. That did not stop us from sharing with people or trading to make things easier for both us and others. We had a few second hand stores in the town we went to shop.

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June 17, 20040 found this helpful

To teach teens to save money allot one day each month for one full year to reward the teen each time they take the initiative to save money. Reward them with an coupon.

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March 18, 20050 found this helpful

One thing we have done in trying to teach our children to be frugal as well as teaching them the value of a dollar is to have them each deposit 1/2 of their paycheck from their part-time jobs into a savings account. It's an encouragement to them to see it grow as well as teaching them some frugality when they only have 1/2 of their paycheck to spend for the time between pay periods. You would be surprised how far my daughters can make $50 go! By Robin

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April 25, 20060 found this helpful

Today's poll asks: Did you learn frugality from your parents?

Feel free to post feedback about this poll in the feedback forum below.

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