Image by jtyerse via Flickr
Frugality is often criticized these days. Calling someone frugal is nearly an insult. Now I do differentiate between saving money and sneaky actions that harm others in an effort to save money out of my own pocket. For example, going to the restaurant on kids night to have a cheaper family meal is great. Lying about my kids’ ages to get them dinner under the “kids eat free if under X age” is not good.
Living a simpler, cheaper, and less resource consuming lifestyle has been proven especially useful as the economy has spun down and our income was cut in the process.
If our children want toys and knick knacks, they have to save up and buy it. (Christmas and birthdays excluded.) We get all our books are from the library, with us buying a few coloring books and activity books as the current ones are used up. Benefits include:
Kids learn you don't have to buy something just because you are at the store.
And a big lesson in remembering to bring your money along if you want to shop.
They learn the value of saving up and money management.
We’ve asked Grandma to trim the kids’ hair while they’re over there. A bang trim usually delays a haircut for a month, a savings of $10-15 per kid.
I asked for new replacement toaster for Christmas so I didn’t have to buy it myself. Got it for Christmas, too. And unlike the Yankee Scented Candle in the closet, this gift actually gets used.
When making pasta or Mac’n’cheese, I do it in bulk. Think big cauldron pot of boiling water plus a couple boxes. Eat a plateful for the family’s dinner, freeze the rest for family lunches during the week. Cheaper than buying frozen lunches, and in such quantities, I can usually use less cheese powder for the macaroni and less energy overall for the process.This saves cooking time and the energy used in food preparation. The leftovers used for brown bagging are cheaper and healthier than eating out.
Our children have been taught that saving water and electricity saves money as well as the Earth. Aside from an over eager kindergartner turning off the lights on her baby brother when he plays in his room – and his complaints met with “just play in the dark” – our electric bill has come down about 10%. And our water bill is down about 5%. All due to more careful actions by children to not leave faucets on and being willing to play with less water in the tub.
We ask our children for ideas of what to do with used, broken or damaged items. Whether rebuilt into a collage or sculpture or put in the recycling bin, we are trying to build in an ethos of thinking about the status of the item. This is instead of dumping everything in the trash when done with it.