How Do You Get the Family Onboard with Frugal Living?
You’ve decided that enough is enough. It’s time to quit hemorrhaging money, get out of debt, and start saving. All that might be challenging enough if you were single, but what about when you have a family? How do you get everyone else to agree and teach your kids the value of a dollar?
Talk About Money
The first thing to do if you want to reduce your living costs as a family is make sure money is not on the list of taboo subjects in your family. If you’re a single mom, you can go straight to the talking to kids about it, but otherwise, the first few conversations you have need to be with your partner. Even if you come from similar backgrounds, you might have very different ideas about money.
It’s not uncommon for one person to look on it as something to be spent while the other saves almost compulsively. You don’t have to be in total agreement about all things financial to move forward, but you do need to compromise. If you’re struggling, you may want to talk all this through with a counselor. Once you and your partner are more or less on the same page, make money talk a regular thing in the family. It shouldn’t be stressful, simply matter of fact.
It can take a while to get everyone in some sort of agreement, and in the meantime, you need to work on a budget. This will almost certainly go through a few iterations as you drill down into your spending more and get a better idea of how to balance everyone’s needs, but there are a few things you can do to start with, such as getting strict with your grocery lists, banning impulse buys, and looking for sales. Take a look at your debt as well. With the exception of your mortgage, you should be looking at ways to pay it all off. You might want to take out a personal loan to pay some or all of it if the loan offers lower interest and better repayment terms, and this also means that you only have one debt payment to worry about each month.
Participation and Rewards
If you want to make your children into enthusiastic participants, give them some ownership. Let them decide between snacks at the grocery store instead of banning all snacks. Demonstrate how certain options cost more than others and how more frugal choices can actually be better. What kind of a family night can you create at home for the cost of movie tickets for four?
Giving kids an allowance and letting them save up for certain things that they want can provide them with a sense of accomplishment. You may also be able to help them open bank accounts and watch the money in it grow. With a small savings account or something similar, they can also see how interest works. Look for non-monetary ways to celebrate smart moves that save money. This has the dual effect of rewarding them and also showing that there are ways to treat yourself that don’t have to involve spending.