Teaching Your Kids About Frugal Living

February 18, 2015

Collecting eggs on the farm.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.


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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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.

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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.

A recipe book with a wooden spoon.

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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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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.

Growing Up with Little Money

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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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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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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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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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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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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.

A woman using coupons.

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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, 2004

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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