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Kids and Frugal Living

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure exactly what I"m looking for in this thread. Just different thoughts, I suppose. Seeing threads here, and talking to frugal friends IRL, I see that some people are trying to give their kids so many (too many) things, to make up for them not having many luxuries as a kid.
I was raised on yardsale clothes, casseroles, etc. Very frugal! I don't feel deprived, nor do I feel the need to compensate and over-indulge my kids. What's this about? My MIL is like this. She gave her 3 kids more things (food choices, parties, toys, clothes, etc) than they needed or wanted. I've tried talking to her about it, and about her childhood and she just cries saying she just wants her kids to have what she always wanted.
Are there any theories on this? What would make the difference between a child feeling deprived or a child feeling confident in their spending?

did that make sense?
post #2 of 19
Ohhhh I have a huge problem with this too. My parents and my mil constantly spoil my children. My parents live next door and my mom gives my kids candy every day! My mil is always giving my girls gifts and taking them places (we've tried to talk to her a million times and keep the girls from going over there as much but it really boils down to geographics right now...she lives very close)
I grew up with very little and it was fine....my in laws didnt give my dh very much either....they were pretty poor just like my parents and we are just fine....so I dont know what the obsession is to give give give....our kids have more than i ever dreamed of having when i was growing up and to be honest they are spoiled!! They dont appreciate simple things like I did...and I dont know how to undo some of the damage...
We are going to slowly incorporate a more frugal lifestyle and just pray that our children will appreciate what we are doing when they are older......
post #3 of 19
Congrats on the foster son!!!!!
post #4 of 19
We live close to the local high school, and I see lots of teenagers out and about...I cannot believe what some of these children have in terms of clothes, cell phones, CARS - it is unbelievable! I often wonder if these kids are just constantly trying to "one up" each other on the "spoiledness" scale - there is this one particular group of girls that all have the newest BMW convertables with leather interior and specialized license plates. One of the girls goes to our church - she wrecked her "Beemer" two weeks ago (totalled it) and the very next day, she was sitting pretty in her brand spanking new MERCADES - bought of course, by her parents!!!

We are definitely living in a "more, more, more" society...which I feel has lead to "less, less, less" in the way of social and moral values. I'm currently reading "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families" and would really suggest it to anyone interested...it talks in great deapth of the importance of giving children love, respect, attention, direction, etc....not large amounts of material "stuff."

I hope and pray that when DS is grown, he will look back and be able to say that he felt loved by us - I hope that more than the toys he had (or didn't have) that he will remember the good times we shared as a family, just loving and caring for one another.

More along the lines of answering your question: I believe that children learn to respect money and spending more when they realize that it is something that is worked for and not to just thrown around lightly.
post #5 of 19
post #6 of 19
i have wresteled with this as well. When thrift shop toys are so cheap, why not buy a thousand!! Well, i live in 750 sq ft, and i need breathing room so we have purged purged purged.
I also just finally realized that I stopped buying them so much stuff, so I started to compensate by doing THINGS. Finding free activities and insisting that we go to them all.
I am starting to let it all go
post #7 of 19
I was raised with more than I needed (we were not wealthy, but my Dad enjoyed buying stuff for his little girls) but we also had lots and lots and lots of time with our parents, so I somehow never developed a huge attachment to things. I usually got what I asked for (aside from the adopted brother and the personal masseuse, both of which I actually asked for), but I didn't ask for a lot because my life was filled with activities with my folks so I didn't feel I needed a lot of extras.

My in-laws raised my husband EXTREMELY fugally, but now they spoil their grandkids rotten. They brought 29 gifts to our house for Christmas. It was ridiculous, and I think they realized it too.

Both my husband and I agree on a frugal lifestyle, and for the most part we enjoy it.

I think it comes down mostly to nature and personality.

post #8 of 19
My dad was raised super-frugally and has recently conned my grandmother (his mom) into giving him my 40,000$ and my brother's 40,000$ in savings bonds to pay off his bankruptcy so that he wouldn't have to share his portion (roughly 300,000 in bonds + the estate) when she dies. He feels like he was denied so much when he was growing up that he deserves ALL that money that was put into savings instead of buying him things. SO that is probably an extreme example of an extreme situation with an extreme person. So he didn't want to provide for his kids when he grew up, he just wanted to make sure we didn't get any of what could go to him.

On that note, I can't type anymore right now.
post #9 of 19
I also am struggling w/ this issue. My In-laws have been divorced for 15+ years and they feel the need to "one-up" eachother IRT gift giving. They send gifts or money for EVERY holiday...even St Patrick's day! Between the 2 of them, the ups guy came at xmas w/ at least 10 LARGE boxes of CRAP. I had tried explain that we wanted to give DCs fewer gifts this year, but it was lost. I tried going the no-batteries route also...MIL just thought I didn't want to buy batteries, and included them amongst the piles o' plasticky stuff that sits in the corner. They do not grasp quality vs. quantity.

My family was not raised this way. We hovered above poverty forever, so I know just about every game you can think of to play w/ rocks and sticks...these are actually the types of things my DCs (probably any kids, truth be told) prefer.

My DD actually picks from her xmas gifts and sets things aside for classmates b-days, cousins b-days etc. She also sets aside for consignment/yard sales. She does this w/ clothing also. We have agreed that if she sells anything, half is hers and half goes into savings and she is proud of her savings. She knows what she enjoys and I don't want her to feel obligated to keep a thing just b/c it was a gift.

I'm thinking about next year asking them to pay for lessons/classes at the Y/summer art camp....anything. If they feel they must overindulge, I'm going to attempt to turn it in a more positive direction.

I think I may have veered of the intended topic of the thread...
post #10 of 19
post #11 of 19
I think this is a wonderful thread. My parents also gave me whatever I asked for,but we lived on a farm and I did alot of chores in the house as well as on the farm and they felt that I deserved rewards for helping out so much. I don't think we ever "kept up with the Jones" I never felt deprived and in the age of grunge,well it was just considered cool to wear thrift store finds among my friends. You would think my mom would appreciate all that money I saved her by shopping at Goodwill,but she was raised in a very affluent family and would NEVER shop at such a place :LOL My dh was raised with a single mom with three kids and had a paper route from the time he was 9 until highschool. He was also responsible for paying for his own phone bill as well as help his mother pay some utilities. He's got a wonderful saving attitute and also doesnt mind shopping at second hand stores. It will be interesting how we will raise our child ( we are adopting) I don't want to keep up with the Jones and could never fathom buying my kid a car I couldnt even afford! How would he respect the value of working and the value of money? Besides in the end people never say, " I'm going to miss that Beemer or that big screen tv" They always say they're going to miss out on time spent with loved ones. What is good advice in helping to steer your child away from the"I must have" and the "I want crowd" in this day in age?
post #12 of 19
My DH and I were both raised similarly money-wise, DIRT POOR.

Our attitudes towards our kids vary though. He wants to give, give, give, because he says he never had anything.

I see that I'm just fine being raised on thrift stores, garage sales, and yes, even dumpster diving.

So how do two people that were both raised with nothing differ so much? My mother was a loving hippy-momma who gave us love and attention, even with a divorce, mental problems etc. His parents stayed married, but dad was an alcoholic and mom was wrapped up in so many other things.

I think he's substituting the material things for what was missing in his life, where I had what was really important...my mother's TIME AND ATTENTION.

post #13 of 19
What an intriguing thread! I think it depends on a lot of things, but I think Alkenny put her finger on a lot of it. My MIL is a spendthrift who seems to equate expensive gifts w/ love, and I think she is trying to make up for what she didn't have emotionally as a child. Her father was abusive and wasted away their money on alcohol, and she feels that her brother was favored over her. So, in her mind she seems to equate her unhappy childhood w/ her father wasting their money, even though there was much more to it than just that.

I do, however, think that sometimes it can be a partial result of the culture in which one grew up. I grew up in a small rural town, where frugality was almost a way of life. In my high school, the girl w/ the designer jeans got made fun of, and the "cool kids" bragged about the jeans they got for $5 on clearance.
post #14 of 19
I struggle w/this, too. (nak) my prob is that *I* like the toys. There are so many things I want. When dh nudges us too start dumping our stash, I really struggle. I can sit down w/ds & play for hours on the floor w/Lincoln Logs, Legos, Tinkertoys, etc. I get giddy just thinking about it. And I want a cool hot wheels trax so bad. And what we have just isn't enough. there are always more parts, cooler pieces that I really want or *need*. Oh baby, I can justify just about anything. It's all "educational" in my book!

boysrus - you live in 750 sq ft . So do we!!! 1 bedroom, 2 adults, 2 small boys. we should talk. PM me sometime.
post #15 of 19
I think people can really splurge because stuff is cheaper. For instance, I used to buy My Little Pony dolls when I was 6. They cost $7 each - the same dolls now cost $7, but that $7 is a lot easier to come by these days. My mother is awful. I had a ton of toys as a child, but my younger brother and sister (7 and 8) get a toy every time they go to the store now. It's just cheap enough to buy all kinds of things.

That doesn't explain the Vuitton bags and the BMWs, but I think it's part of it.
post #16 of 19
This is such an interesting thread.

My parents were the ones that worked way too much and compensated by buying stuff. We were by no means rich but if I asked I got.

I was not taught be example or otherwise how to keep a budget or make wise financial decisions. I learned a brutal lesson when after the break up of a marriage (to another financial misfit) I was left with nothing but the paycheck I was expecting the following week. My friends helped me out by buying me food and lending me money until I got back on my feet.

It wasn't until I went through all this that I realized how warped my view of money and material possesions were.

My dh was raised by a single mom that worked her ass off but instead of things she travelled with him and spent money on the best schools. Still there was an emphasis on "the BEST-doing/being/looking" instead of happiness. My DH was lucky because his grandma was super thrifty and she taught him a lot of what he knows. Maybe too much sometimes.

It really is sad. My mom just called and wanted to come for a visit. She called back to say she wasn't coming because she hadn't had a chance to get their Valentine's gifts. They haven't seen her in weeks.
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
My MIL just sent a huge package for Valentine's Day... umm... last time I checked, buying things wasn't the way to show love. hmm.. DS's last birthday was the WORST! She sent an enourmous box with a present for each day of the week. Then she would call each day and see that he liked his present that day . I was happy when the stupid Buzz Lightyear toy broke only minutes after opening it. She knows we don't do plastic toys, but felt it her obligation to induldge DS. ick. The presents were supposed to get better each day leading up to his b-day with the best present. Guess what the last present was... a bag of snickers bars! :

She is definatly making up for her feeling so deprived as a child. Her dad was very stingy with his money. She's told me he wouldn't buy anything for her mom unless it was absolutely necessary, so her mom had to get a job to buy the frivolous things she wanted. MIL sees this as deprived. I think she was just living in a very judgemental place, and seeing herself as "the poor kid" that other kids must look down upon. Although I don't think that was actually true, it's easy for a pre-teen to draw assumptions of what others think of them. She still cares very much what others think of her. Wouldn't want to damage that nice fake facade would we?
post #18 of 19
I find this very interesting. Especially since my daughter is working and making some of her own purchases but not out of the house yet.

Both my husband and I save for what we want. He thinks I am better then he is. We believe in being frugal, saving for what we want, no credit cards, paying off any debt as quickly as we can (house/truck). We have things but not bunches of anything unless you count books, music, and movies which we reread, rewatch, and listen to all the time.

My parents are very much this way and it was how I was raised. My husband's parents on the other hand like to buy things. My mother-in-law used to work for JCPenny's and would come home with six of something because it was such a wonderful price and do I not want one. When it is one grandchild's birthday, every grandchild gets presents. They are incredible spendthrifts.

Our daughter (mine from my previous marriage) is fairly frugal. She works. Every day spending money is her tips. She saves at least half of what she makes so she can afford a car and to move out. She will say she can not afford something and not buy it. Especially when I was alone, she did get a lot of what she asked for. There were many times when I would say, yes you can have this but I really need to wait until my next paycheck.

It will be interesting to see how she continues when she moves out within the next five years.
post #19 of 19
There's a book called Living Simply with Children that is really excellent. I highly recommend it...even if you are already practicing what it says, its a great resources and source of validation. You can find it on amazon (i requested it from my library but they couldnt' get it).
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