You can preach the values of frugal living all day long but if you’re not setting a good example, it’s unlikely that your children will take it to heart. What’s more, they won’t be able to learn the frugal skills they need to become financially responsible and environmentally conscious adults.
Here are a few ways that you can help set that example, teach your children important life skills and spend quality time together.
Make Family Meals a Priority
I understand all too well how busy life gets and the allure of the drive-through window. But food is one of our most basic needs and it deserves to be a high priority. Take the time to figure out how you and your family will work together to find the time to eat nourishing meals together more often than not.
Older children should be as involved as possible with helping prepare, serve and clean up after family meals. They might grouse, but better they fuss now and learn how to cook and clean than rack up thousands of dollars of credit card debt in college getting pizza because they have no clue about how to feed themselves.
Eating meals together has also been shown to have a positive affect on children’s development. Children enjoy the structure that a regular dinner time offers. It helps to ensure healthy communication and better eating habits. In my opinion, it’s better to cut back on after-school activities, especially for the grade school set, rather than forgo family dinners.
DIY More Often
Rolling up your sleeves and tackling easy home repair and sewing projects teaches children the value of caring for things so that they don’t have to be constantly replaced. It also shows them that they can be resourceful and figure out how to make simple fixes by themselves (and when it’s best to cut your loses and call in a professional!)
Don’t worry if you’re not a natural handyman, have no idea how to sew or have a black thumb. Your child will learn just as much, perhaps even more, by watching you figure out where to find information to help you solve the problem, making decisions about how to acquire any tools or supplies you’ll need and then following the instructions to make the repair. Even if you mess it up the first time or twelve, they’ll still be learning a lot about patience and tenacity. As long as you understand your limitations and don’t attempt to do dangerous jobs or ones beyond the scope of the average person, it will all work out in the end.
Fill Your Lives with Frugal, Enriching and Fun Activities
Too often, we spend money out of boredom. It’s also true that the less active we are, the less we want to do. Help your children learn how to be resourceful and stay active by taking a proactive role in deciding on fun, enriching low-cost activities for the entire family to do together. Here are a few MoneyNing articles that can give you ideas on where to start:
- 10 Low and No Cost Ways to Nurture Your Child’s Creativity
- 20 Frugal Family Winter Activities
- How to Save Money During the Toddler and Preschool Years
It’s okay to keep things like going out to eat and watching a movie in the theater as big treats. Don’t let your child become jaded at a young age. Instead, let them experience the simple joys of life without constantly having to up the ante. It’s not just frugal, it also helps them appreciate what they have and learn how to entertain themselves with what is on hand.
There is nothing sadder in my mind than a child who has been spoiled by too many material possessions and constant entertainment. Some parents might be able to easily afford all of these electronics, toys and amusements but I don’t believe that it’s in the best interest of a child’s physical, emotional and social development to constantly indulge them. Give them your time and you’ll be rewarded with a child who grows into an adult with a keen sense of what’s really important in life.
Btw, there's a pretty nifty tool that motivates your kids to do chores. It's called MyJobChart.com. With a free account, they can earn points for finishing jobs you assign them, good towards free merchandise. Give it a try. It's completely free!