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Guest Post: Raising Frugal and Financially Responsible Children

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Today’s Guest Post is written by Anny @ Cheaper by the Dozen and Get one Free! Anny is a mother of 11…yes count em…11…a certified ROCKSTAR in my humble opinion! She’ also an award winning author of “Tiny Titan, Journey of Hope” and of course, a longtime Frugal Mom. She has become a wonderful friend of mine and blogs about everything from Target and Walgreens deals to Diapers and Toy deals. And of course I cannot leave out her amazing daughter Becca, who posts weekly Movie Deals!

Now on with Annie’s post:

Over the years of parenting our children, frugalness and bargain hunting was just part of everyday life. My children now as adults have embraced the lifestyle and they are seasoned experts on the money saving green lifestyles as they are ahead of their times. I had to raise them that way out of necessity. I used to wonder how they would grow up without so many of of advantages of their peers because of our circumstances. But the lessons they learned have prepared them to stand on their own, problem solve and that education with hard work will take them far. Looking back I shouldn’t have worried, they would achieve more than I could have ever dreamed for them. Recently I had read an article that 75% off college freshman cannot manage their financial affairs. My children because of their upbringing and our circumstances are beating the odds and are proud coupon and deal shoppers and teaching their peers by example.

When asked how did we raise our children to be such well rounded adults and how they learned to embrace value of frugalness,
It was by Example and being involved in the process. We talked, listened, and answers question after question as children are full off them.

We are our children’s first and most important teachers. The kids learn watching whatever we do and we will want to model frugal money saving behaviors.

Turn money saving and frugalness into a game and then a way of life. The generation who were raised during the depression these values and it is just a part of their value system. When we fell into poverty to cover Becca’s million dollars and our circumstances at times were dire, I had to be “real” with the kids, but be strong and positive that everything will work out. We don’t have to have money or belongings to be happy. We have each other, that is all that truly matters. Together we have it all.

Involve your children in the everyday decisions at their levels. We not only need to be talking with our kids about saving money but also include them in some of the real world decisions that can be handled by our family meetings. We can be honest with them that we can’t afford something right now, but maybe we can save for it and come up with a plan on how they can make it happen. Many times we as parents, want to give them everything we can afford, but the best lessons come when they have to have delayed gratification and the value of hard work to attain it themselves. Being frugal does not mean doing without, finding quality for the least price and sometimes it pays to pay for the top product as it will last much longer than buying an item each year and having it passed down. My biggest lesson, I had to say No as a parent. We can’t afford it. I had to be our kids parent and prepare them to be Adult and have good sound financial values.

Have your children help you save money. Have the kids help you cut coupons. It not only helps get them involved and save you time by cutting but it is a ongoing project that we can all do together. Besides, being able to cut on the line is a good school readiness skill and for those with occupational therapy challenges, it is good for hand control and strengthening. It also makes a great motivator for those who have a consequence for bad behavior at older ages, besides being “timed in” with Mom.

Play the spy the coupon game at the grocery store. Even the wee ones have fun with this from the seat belt in the shopping cart. It is amazing how good the little ones are at finding the “treasure coupons” on the shelves.

Have your kids involved in looking through the grocery ads and finding the deals. Kids have a great memory and they often know which items I had coupons for. My daughters now go on line to “find” me a coupon for something that one of the stores is advertising for a loss leader.

As they practice their math skills by talking through the deals you are finding with the real life math problems of coupon use or helping them use a calculator to find which size is better per ounce than another. My kids, even those with math disabilities, are strong at finding which is the better bargain.

Kids learn by watching, over the years the kids are the best garage sale treasure finders. They know what they like, but also know name brands and can help spy the bargains and grab them as we go first thing in the morning and have to beat the crowd for the finds. My kids grew up going to garage sales and with their help we kept them well dressed and their peers would never have guessed it was a garage sale cast-off.

We tell them anything worth having is worth waiting and working for. The kids had plenty of layaways at Kmart with treasures they were working toward and when they could at long last bring their treasure home they took care of it and they took pride that they had attained it themselves.

Teach your children stewardship, and helping those who need a hand up. Part of our financial values and family mission is to give back and help others less fortunate than ourselves. With stretching our dollars, finding bargains, and donating to food shelves we help others. When we shop for our children, we remember those who have little by buying schools supplies, toys and resources for the various non-profit programs. The kids have a garage sale, lemonade stand or pop can drives for the money to help others.

Empathy is part of the learning process and the social responsibility to care for those who are struggling.

Turn our money saving into games to teach our children, not just the cost cutting lifestyles, but it is a great way to teach real life math and word problems.

Beginning when they were toddlers, they had a little money depending on age, to spend when we would be out. Making purchases or saving it was their decision. I would make suggestions that would guide them into sound money management, but if they “spent” their money and wanted something later we would connect that they spent it already and they maybe “they should have waited.”

Menu planning can be a family affair, have kids spy the loss leaders on the ad and ask what we could make with them and then plot them into the family meal calender. The kids are vested in the meals because they helped plan and prepare them.

For older Kids, they often think that a credit card or check is unlimited. Connecting the card and check to real life money. One of the things we have done to connect that a check or card means you have to have money behind it. A Lesson I learned from Cliff Huxtable on the Cosby Show taught me that kids need visuals to “Really Get It”. When we received a paycheck, we had the kids count out the money in Monopoly money while I wrote checks, and they would then place the appropriate money by the side of the bill and then place the rest of the money by the budgeted expense. What did we have left? Usually nothing, but with careful spending we could find a place for a “treat”.

We involved and taught our kids to help find things we could do as a family for FREE. The kids learned to navigate the newspapers and shoppers for the upcoming events for things we could do. Friday movie nights, and renting movies from the library or using coupons to get them for little to nothing. The memories of our park adventures are remembered just as much as the huge family trip to Disneyland. The time together as family is what is truly important. The big trips are saved for and worked for side by side and the memory that we all did it together was just as treasured as the trip itself.

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