How to Teach Your Kids Frugality


Being frugal is a great way to make the most of your money, and frugal parents want to pass this strategy on to their kids. But how do you do it in a way that doesn't feel preachy or boring?

Here are five great ways to introduce your kids to frugality in a way they'll respond to.

1. Teach Them About "Opportunity Costs"

Help your kids understand they don't need to rush out and spend their money right away, but that they can save for something even better later on.

If your son wants to blow his allowance on ice cream, remind him his friend's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese is coming up, and if he saves his money, he can use it to play more games. If you're daughter's looking at a pair of expensive sneakers, explain how she could get the less-expensive pair and still have money left over for a second pair of shoes.

2. Teach Them to Value Experiences Over Things

We live in a society where kids are bombarded daily with advertisements that try to make us believe we'll be happy if we own certain things. Adults have a tough enough time dismissing these lessons; it's nearly impossible for children not to get influenced by ads.

Help your children understand happiness and fun have nothing to do with stuff by encouraging their creativity, nurturing their curiosity and inspiring them to explore and learn. Spend time in nature with your kids and plan family-fun activities that involve minimal to zero spending, such as playing soccer at the park or playing board games at home.

3. Have Fun for Less

No kid will want to be frugal if this entails a boring life, in which they can't hang out with friends or play games. Show them frugality can be fun by choosing family activities that pack in tons of fun for free (or next to free).

Hike in a park or plan a scavenger hunt at the beach.

Camp in your backyard. Create your own silly obstacle course inside your house and a have a tournament.

If you keep your kids busy with things that engage their minds and their bodies, they'll learn you don't need to spend a ton to have a good time.

4. Turn It Into a Game

When you take your kids to the grocery store, challenge them to see who can find the least expensive ice cream, or how many snacks they can get with $5. When it's time to plan for Halloween, take them to a thrift store and challenge them to see how many costumes they can put together with the items they find. This is another way to make frugality fun instead of making it feel like a sacrifice.

5. Lead By Example

Your kids will learn the most simply by watching you, so start a dialogue with them whenever you do something that could serve as a lesson.

Explain why you're fixing the sink yourself instead of hiring a plumber to do it. Explain why you make your lunch for work instead of buying it every day. Explain why you're mending their clothes instead of buying new ones. There are lots of great lessons in your everyday activities; share these with your children in real-time.