or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Frugality & Finances › How do you explain frugal living to your kids?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

How do you explain frugal living to your kids? - Page 2

post #21 of 28
Thread Starter 

canadaap - I've seen similarly in my family. My grandparents struggled as farmers so raising a family in their house was pinch and make do. The children came out of it in different ways - some being very financially responsible and sensible and others having a bit of a hoarding and packrat  lifestyle. Makes me wonder if there was something they could have done better to help their children or if it just comes down to personality and individual choices and upbringing having little effect. The forever question of nature versus nurture.

post #22 of 28

I married someone who makes a lot of money. It would be relatively easy for us to be not-frugal. But I have a kind of weird depression-era mindset. I'm not a hoarder (I have a very minimalist house because if I can't clean the whole thing in an hour we have too much shit) so I didn't go to the extreme. But I wash and reuse plastic bags until they disintegrate. I use family cloth and don't buy disposable anything (other than razors). 

 

I spent a lot of time on www.mint.com. I track every dollar we spend very carefully. My kids see me do this. We talk about what budgeting means. I try to express that part of the reason we have to be careful how to spend our money is because Daddy had to work very hard to get the money. It would be disrespectful to squander it and use it in bad ways. When they want to do something I show them the screen and say, "That kind of purchase comes out of this section in the budget. Do we have enough empty space in the bar to afford what you want and still be ok till the end of the month?" She is getting good at reading the graphs and negotiating. "Ok... we probably don't have enough this month. But if we are just a bit careful we will totally have enough next month!" 

 

She's 4.5 and I keep track of her allowance money in a book. I talk to her about how she spends her money. I ask her which things make her happy and which things does she kind of wish she hadn't bought because she would rather still have the money. I don't control how she spends it. I don't even tell her I think something is a bad idea to purchase. But I do try to get her to think about it after-the-fact. "Are you happy that you now have ___?"

 

For me a lot of my paranoia about money is rooted in fear of losing my home again. I'm terrified that I might end up homeless again but this time with kids. So we live as cheaply as we can and I dump every extra dollar into our mortgage. Our neighborhood is full of foreclosed houses. She asks why her friends move away. It's hard to say that people lose their home because they don't have enough money. If my husband were to injure himself or have an accident then we would be in a really bad spot. I probably wouldn't lose the house because he does have a life insurance policy, but our life would get really bad really fast. 

 

Without a mortgage I could stay here forever. Taxes and upkeep I can manage. I feel like I understand the weird mountain people I grew up with a lot more. The family needs a piece of land they won't be kicked off. Then we can figure out the rest.

 

I live on a small little piece of land. I'm doing my best to fill all of the available ground and height with food bearing plants. I will almost certainly get a chicken coop some day when the kids no longer play in the back yard the way they do now. 

 

I explain my choices to my kids constantly because people comment on our lifestyle. Our neighbors comment on how we can come over to watch tv with them if we want since we can't afford a tv. It was kind of hilarious when this nice lady said that. She meant so well. (Err, we have three laptops and an iPad... we're good. That's enough screens for one house.) But my kids ask why they don't get to have a lawn. Why don't I let them play with water the way some neighbors do. (We are in a gosh darn drought.) 

 

So I suppose it depends on what you mean when you say frugal living. In most ways a surface glance of my life would indicate that my family is poor. Then you would find out that I have lower stress than my neighbors and a huge lump of cash sitting in the bank. If I had to go buy a new car today I could in cash without blinking. But I'd rather drive my weird beater van. I use it for hauling lumber and kids. I don't need a nice vehicle.

 

So it's interesting thinking about what frugality means. I feel like I more than occasionally have friends ask me why I "want to live poor". I always twitch. I live how I was taught to live. When I was a child this was how it worked. We were really freaking poor.

 

But more than that, when I talk to my friends about how they spend money I feel shocked by all the things they find to buy. And then they are broke. And in debt. I don't want to be in debt. I want to be able to travel around the world a great deal. That's a huge carbon footprint. I try very hard to try to balance that self-absorbed excess by lowering my footprint in every other way. It's a conscious large-scale ethical decision. 

 

But I don't run around town looking for bargain prices on things. I just buy what I buy very cheaply and don't go anywhere else to be tempted.

 

I feel like "frugal living" is such an interesting concept. I don't clip coupons. At all. My time is worth more to me than the $3 I can save. My family is at that financial point. Not being able to have such hubris is a stress magnification that completely changes the idea of frugality.

 

If your kid asks you why he can't have some random toy after you have been up all damn night clipping coupons because you desperately need the $100 you can save if you go to six stores it is different. There is a whole sense of worth tied up in that. It feels like you can't have that because I am not good enough to be able to provide you with everything you want (not all the time and not all people--please don't take this too personally).

 

I don't have that added layer of stress. When my kid asks me I can say, "Do you have enough allowance money" and if not I get to decide if I think it is a good idea or not. She has never asked for and gotten anything over $50. I just think it hasn't come up. All her purchases are under $20. And I get to just splurge sometimes.

 

Which makes the fact that I overall look like a poor person is a kind of distortion. If I want something I just need to think of minor tweaks in our budget in order to get it. Maybe save up for a few months. I get delayed gratification.

 

I very consciously avoid any temptation to buy things. I don't window shop. I run out of willpower. Then I don't maintain my frugality.

 

So how do I explain my very conscious choices to avoid the temptation to buy things and to reuse things obsessively? "We are in the category of people using up the resources of the entire planet at a rate that cannot be sustained. Every time we contribute to that we are hastening the demise of our way of life. I want grandkids. Let's be conservative about this."

 

So far they like me enough that  I get buy-in. We'll see how it goes as they get older and have more wants.

post #23 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rightkindofme View Post

 

So how do I explain my very conscious choices to avoid the temptation to buy things and to reuse things obsessively? "We are in the category of people using up the resources of the entire planet at a rate that cannot be sustained. Every time we contribute to that we are hastening the demise of our way of life. I want grandkids. Let's be conservative about this."

 

I love this. Thank you! thumb.gif

 

One question - do you find www.mint.com to be time-consuming? Is it something an older child or teen could use to track their own expenses? 

post #24 of 28
After the initial time consuming set up i spend less than five minutes every other dry or so categorizing transactions. It feels easy to me.
post #25 of 28

I think I love you rightkindofme.    luxlove.gif  I recently had this discussion with my kids on a much less cool and concise basis.  winky.gif  We helped my parents this past Saturday in moving and stacking a cord of wood they had delivered.  We used a giant wheelbarrow instead of the ride-on lawnmower and trailer that they ADORE driving/riding.  And I caught flak for that because yeah, it would have been easier to use the trailer for the wood.  But the wheelbarrow worked fine, only took myself, my dad, and my 3 kids about 90 minutes to move the pile to the backyard and stack it.    We had a discussion about why the tractor was gonna cost us so much in gas and be wasteful when we were 5 strong healthy bodies capable of  hauling hte wood without a tractor.  The big things are easy to see for them but for the smaller things like using a push wheelbarrow instead of a gas-powered tractor or hanging that load of laundry late at night instead of starting the dryer, they lose focus and just want the easy option.  I tried to put it in the theme of conservation of gas as opposed to the cost savings of not having to buy an extra gallon of gas.  I'm not sure it worked but they did it without complaining too much.lol.gif

post #26 of 28
It's just something we do.

I just tonight showed/discussed with my 16 year son how we can create next week's menu based on stuff already in the freezer and fridge and pantry. That keeps our costs down and ensures that food I've already spent money on gets used up.
post #27 of 28
Several years ago, when my husband lost his job, we had to make some big changes. I was just open and honest about the finances and the reasons for the changes. My son adapted beautifully. He was 6 or 7, at the time.

I believe in being open and honest with children. How else can they learn, except to repeat our mistakes. I want my son to benefit from my experiences, both positive and negative. He'll make his own mistakes, but at least he can learn from mine, as well as what I do well.
post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

It's just something we do.

I just tonight showed/discussed with my 16 year son how we can create next week's menu based on stuff already in the freezer and fridge and pantry. That keeps our costs down and ensures that food I've already spent money on gets used up.

 

 

With younger children you can make it into a treasure hunt.  I give the 8 year old and 5 year old a stool and send them on a treasure hunt in the freezer.  They show the 12 year old and I what they find and we come up with ways to make it into meals.  

 

Conversely when you are stocking the freezer(like say from the garden), you can be hungry bears stocking up for winter hibernation.  It worked really well with my youngest who was 4 1/2 this past fall when we were ending the summer garden and ripping out the last of the 3/4 dead from blight tomato plants.  We were cutting up squash and kale and peppers and bagging and freezing them and I handed my 4 year old a butter knife and showed her how I needed things cut up and  she told me we were hungry bears and we would need this food in winter.  We were stocking up for our hibernation.  She then taught me how to roar.lol.gif  But the point was not scaring her with finances or food prices in the winter but making it into a fun activity.  She loved it and every time we take a bag out of the freezer stash she remembers being bears.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Frugality & Finances
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Frugality & Finances › How do you explain frugal living to your kids?