Teach your children to be frugal

It can be tough to teach your children to be frugal. I originally wrote this post for Lee at Homely Economics back in March.  I thought it would be a good time to revisit it.

Whatever your reasons for saving money, it can to be tricky to bring family on board, particularly kids. When you need to cut back it can be hard for them to understand the need for a more thrifty lifestyle. Maybe they have been used to always being given the toys they asked for, the clothes or the gadgets? Perhaps they have enjoyed regular takeaways and days out to theme parks? Fighting with your kids when you need to clear your debt or reduce your costs can be very wearing. So how can you teach your children to be frugal and have fun with it?

teach your children to be frugal

Be honest

If you are anxious about money, the last thing you want to do is pass your worries to your children. But you can talk to them. Explain to them what you are doing and what your end goal is. It may be that you are saving for something that will benefit them. Or that you want to clear your debts so that you can start putting money aside for a holiday.  Perhaps you want to pay off your mortgage so that you can work less and spend more time with them?

Try to put a positive slant on whatever you want to achieve. Their age will obviously impact on what you tell them and the amount of detail you go into. Just communicate and let them know you have a budget that you have to stick to.

Ensure that you lead by example. Don’t say no to a cinema trip with them and then impulse buy yourself an expensive pair of shoes.

Make sure you always build some small treats for them into your budget. So you can’t afford that cinema trip? How about making an occasion of a home movie night? Get popcorn or chocolate and snuggle up together to watch something on Netflix or a DVD. If a theme park is too expensive, your children are likely to enjoy a trip to your local park with a picnic almost as much.

Stress the benefits

Stress the benefits of a frugal lifestyle. Buying less stuff creates less packaging and is better for the environment. Cycling rather than driving gives you a chance to see nature and gets you fit. Cooking from scratch rather than buying convenience foods and takeaways is healthier. Using the library rather than buying books means you can take home a whole bag of books to read rather than just one or two.

The best way to teach your children to be frugal and budget is to give them money! Just a little though. Give them a regular allowance and  sensible opportunities to save or spend it. If there is something they really want, encourage them to save up for it. The satisfaction they get and the appreciation of the thing they have had to wait for will be much greater than if you had simply bought it at their first request.

Take your kids to charity shops and boot sales. Both are great places for them to learn about bargain hunting and how to get the most from their money. They can observe you putting your own frugality into practice as you bag a bargain or two!

Supermarket shoppers

Teach your children the value of the pound in your pocket. Take them to the supermarket and discuss the different prices of items and your reasons for making the choices you do. For example you could explain that you buy the supermarket own item rather than a brand name because there is little difference in quality or taste and the supermarket brand is cheaper. Or that if you buy tomatoes, onions and peppers you can make a mass of healthy pasta sauce for the freezer rather than purchasing the more expensive jar version.

Teach them to cook

Let them help you to plan some of your meals so that you can discuss the cost of the ingredients. Then give them cooking lessons. This is one of the best skills you can teach your family if you want them to eat healthily and learn to budget. As they get older and go to university or get their own place, the ability to whip up a cheap and nutritious dinner will mean that they will be able to avoid spending money on eating out or convenience foods. Teach your children to cook and they might even cook for you.

Earning a crust

Let them do any regular chores for nothing, like tidying up their bedrooms, but offer your children small financial rewards for doing extra jobs from time to time. They will appreciate money that they have earned even more.

As soon as my daughters were old enough I encouraged them to get jobs – babysitting and shop work mainly – and I am so glad that I did. As teenagers, they could afford to treat themselves to some of the things I couldn’t stretch to. This also helped them get their first ‘proper jobs’, as employers love to see any kind of work experience on a young person’s CV.

 Financial education will teach your children to be frugal

They don’t teach financial education in schools and I strongly believe that they should do. Older children need to understand how credit works and  what interest rates are, how it can be helpful to occasionally use a credit card but that it must be paid back. Teach them about budgeting and financial planning. Tell them what you do and about your past mistakes. Encourage them to save by opening savings accounts for them.

You can teach your children to be frugal – it’s just common sense really. If you can get them on board it will help you to stick to your budget now and help you reach your financial goals. You will also create savvy children who will follow your lead in the future!

I’m taking part in the Monday Money linky with Lynn from Mrs Mummy PennyFaith from Much More With Less and Emma from EmmaDrew.Info.

16 thoughts on “Teach your children to be frugal

  1. Do you really think teachers have time to teach frugality and finance in schools, every moment is spoken for, the only time a teacher gets to sit down is on the lavatory. Teaching, supervising, clearing up shit and piss, serving meals, clearing up, answering damn food questions from stupid parents. It is up to families to teach their children money skills, how to cook, how to swim and toilet train them before they get to school. I am sick to death of teachers getting the blame, parents should parent.

    • That’s all rather negative. I wasn’t blaming teachers in the slightest! I know it is a tough job as I was married to a teacher for 20 years. Of course parents should take responsibility. I think it should be on the curriculum and time given to it. Parents often don’t understand it either.

    • Of course its up to parents to teach and guide their children, but some are uninformed and some plain inept. Maths lessons could incorporate finance and budgeting – far more use than half the stuff that is taught and never used.
      I’m glad that the (several) teachers in my family are somewhat more positive about their jobs!

  2. We lived in America for nearly 20 years, and one of the compulsory classes for 12th grade (17-18 year olds) was Personal Finance.
    Over there, secondary aged kids choose their own non-compulsory classes (electives) from a range of subject (from art to workshop) which run in either year-long or half-year blocks, and Personal Finance was a half-year class. The other half year was spent taking the also compulsory US Government and Citizenship class where they were taught how the country runs, government and all about voting, how to register to vote etc.

    In PF the young adults learn how to open accounts, budgeting, paying bills, how credit works, debt, interest, consumerism & advertising, and even about stocks & shares and how to trade!

    This followed on from something they did at the age of 13-14 (8th grade) called Reality Town (which is a national programme) where the kids had an afternoon off normal lessons to take part.
    Basically they were given a job/career based on their current grades (so an A student had more money to live on than a C student, and a failing student was like minimum wage!) and then there were given a “profile” – ie they were either married or single, had x number of dependents/no dependents, how much their mortgage/rent was , commuting costs, bills etc

    During the simulation they had to go round the “stations” in the gym paying mortgage/rent, paying bills, buying food, travel expenses, car repairs and so on to see if they could live on the amount their grade level said they would be able to earn.

    The idea was to show that the better they did in school the better their chances of earning a decent salary and getting the job they actually wanted. Some wanted to be civil servants but only had burger-flipper grades, if you see what I mean!

    For many it was definitely a reality check, because the following year the grades they got in each subject for the next 4 years began to count towards whether or not they’d graduate at 18 and how high their grade point average would be – a bit like Yr 9s doing this right before starting their GCSE courses in Yr 10.

    Here in the UK schools find time for an annual Sports Day (even our secondary school has inter-form every summer for those not on study leave!) – so why not a Reality Town Day as well? It could be done, and could be adapted to suit all ages.

  3. Hello Jane,
    I just wanted to write and tell you how much I appreciate your blog. I look forward to each and every post and always find them interesting and informative.
    You write really well and share lots of great ideas. I know in a busy life it must be hard to find the time to produce a blog post, so thank you for doing that and so regularly too!
    I am sorry that some folks use your comment section to write negative and personal thoughts.
    Your ideas are great and I most certainly agree with you.
    Pam in Texas.x

  4. I taught my youngest, mostly by example, about being careful with money. (We actually had very little money!) She now has bought a house with her partner, at a time when most people need to get a handout from parents, in New Zealand, in order to do so. She and her partner did it by working hard, and going without. A never fail formula for having money.

  5. My children get £5 per week from their father and £10 per month from me. From that they are expected to buy their own toiletries and hosiery and fund their hobbies. My daughter, who is 14, sometimes goes out with her friends to Costa Coffee and she is expected to fund that sort of thing too. If they run out of money they know there is no more. My daughter is very good and I’ve caught her cutting the ends off tubes and balancing shampoo bottles upside down. My son is learning but he is only 11.

  6. I am so sorry that Edna has left such negative comments. We all know teaching can be difficult, but might I suggest that her use of language, especially if she uses such language around children, might be modified? If Edna is a teacher – for I suspect she is – then perhaps she needs to reconsider her career choice? Yes, it is up to parents to teach children how to use the loo (and even good parents can sometimes find this difficult, especially if a little one has a bowel problem) but financial education is a totally different matter and it would be a very good thing, as Julia has so clearly said, if this was on the curriculum.
    Margaret P

  7. Agree it’s so important for parents to teach their children about money, and schools to provide education on money matters. Hope I can help my kids learn how to earn it and spend it carefully, rather than thinking money grows on trees. Thanks for taking part in #MondayMoney!

  8. Hello. I think this is excellent advice you have given. Hopefully, those who read this can pass it on especially to the younger generation. I totally agree with you that a class/course in the schools would be most enlightening especially in this day and age where society tells us that “things” will bring us instant gratification. I love to buy nice things but I don’t buy them on borrowed money and I always look for a sale. I commend you for your sound advice. Sending you greets from a gray May day in Southern California, Pat 🙂

  9. I would not want my children to be taught by Edna, she sounds vile and her language is appalling.
    This is the first time I have ever commented on any blog and I really hope Edna has read my comment.
    Thank you for you blog Jane, it is wonderful.

  10. Funnily enough, since I left the comment above about my children, Katie has had a flexible learning at her school. It taught her about finance, mortgages, credit cards and tax. Obviously at 14 she is too young to try and grasp all of the topics but they have been introduced to her. She has learnt something from her mother as I caught her cutting the ends off her toothpaste tubes and leaving her shampoo bottles upside down!! 🙂

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